This Government should be embarrassed by the discovery it has no business case to justify charging to access public information.
As the One Bermuda Alliance has previously stated, the Government’s grounds for introducing a fee for public access to information was based entirely on anecdotal information. A single information request, which the Government fought at every step, is apparently the only leg they have to stand on.
Press freedoms are incredibly precious. They are enshrined in every stable democracy, thriving economy and secure society. But they are hard won and easily lost.
It is slippery slope, and none too subtle, to curtail freedoms to information. What starts as a “nominal” fee can quickly become a confusing mess so dense and bureaucratic, that there’s no point even trying to get information.
The state of our economy already threatens the free press, with fewer newspapers and news broadcasts every year.
The introduction of the fee for access to information may be warranted. But given how difficult it already is to get access to public information, the fee will be yet another hurdle to holding the Government to account.