New Zealand Law Society - Ombudsman guide to online information requests

Ombudsman guide to online information requests

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The Office of the Ombudsman has released a guide for official information requests made online through, Twitter and Facebook.

Requests made online notes that official information requests can be made in any form and communicated by any means.

"Any agency that has an email address can receive a request via FYI, and agencies that have a Twitter account or Facebook page can receive requests that way."

The guide also notes that under the Official Information Act 1982 the identity of the requester is only strictly required for the purpose of establishing eligibility; and there are no eligibility restrictions under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987.

"There is also no requirement for a person to give reasons for their request. Reasons can be helpful in identifying the specific information sought, and in weighing competing public interests in favour of withholding and disclosure. Agencies can ask a requester for their reasons. However, requesters cannot be compelled to supply them, and should not be pressured to do so."

The guide also provides information on when online requests are "received" for the purpose of calculating the maximum response time and gives some advice to agencies on how they should respond and deal with requests made online.

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