Saturday, June 11, 2011

What if FOI Act Included Those in Relationships?

I heard the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill had been passed into law and I wasn't bothered, although I had a sketchy idea of what it was. Then I heard on CNN that the news network as well as other news agencies in the USA had exercise their right provided by the FOI act, had requested for the emails of Sarah Palin, a one-time governor of Alaska and a vice-presidential candidate, and over 2000 pages of emails had been made available to the public. From both her public and private email account. I got an idea of what the FOI law was about and read it up. As long as an individual was a public officer, any Nigerian had the right to request for documents in their possession. Then I thought about it, what if the FOI law was extended to include those in relationships.
Imagine it was a law that as long as you were in a relationship with an individual for more than 3 years, including father/mother/sister/brother/boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband, the individual had the right to request for certain information including your emails and bank accounts (which the FOI law requires public office holders to reveal), what would be the consequences? Good/Bad.
Parents that were used to lying to their children that there was no money to support them would have to back it up with their statements of account. Or wives that keep secret accounts. Personally I would be held by the balls if anyone I had dated had access to my emails, phone records, not to mention my facebook account. I would have to account for a lot. Fortunately I've never dated anyone for over a year. Then again who wouldn't have a lot to account for.
The whole idea of the FOI might be seen as a celebration of freedom of the press but there is always a way out. Clause 8 of the law provides that “a N500,000 fine when a case of wrongful denial of access is established against the defaulting officer or institution on conviction”. If I value my documented 'secrets' was worth more than N500,000 I would prefer to pay up, destroying/deleting them. Like the super injunctions, this law appears to favour the wealthy because N500,000 is a mere change.
Do I want FOI law to include relationships? No. Unlike public officers, deception makes relationships work. If some unloving wives knew their husband's worth, the husband might die early and they run away with one Chico in Puerto Rico. Like Sarah Palin stated, lots of her emails would be taken out of context. A simple missed call from an ex of the person you are in a relationship with might be misconceived, not to mention emails.

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