Why is someone at the Cabinet Office Googling journalist James Ball?
Ball, who has recently been doing some work around here about the Freedom of Information Act, has noted Cabinet Office addresses popping up in his blog’s server logs since filing a FOI request with that department at the heart of Government. They seem to be coming from Google searches for his name, he notes in a piece on Comment is Free.
Ball is not alone. The BBC’s Martin Rosenbaum observed the same thing a few months ago. I’ve noticed it too: visits from the Ministry of Defence to my blog became very frequent after I made some requests from them.
But Information Commissioner has repeatedly found that the Freedom of Information Act is both applicant- and purpose blind. In other words, who requested public information and why is supposed to have no bearing on whether or how the information is released.
So why are civil servants wasting their time attempting to guess the motivations of members of the public making FOI requests?