Our software for running Freedom of Information websites. It’s currently powering websites that help people in 25 jurisdictions to submit FOI requests and publish the responses. Between them, these sites have processed and published over 100,000 requests this year.
“The WhatDoTheyKnow.com service helps tackle some of the scourges in our society including political spin and fake news. I volunteer because I want to see this hugely valuable service survive, and thrive.”
10 years of information
WhatDoTheyKnow, our own UK site for making and publishing Freedom of Information requests, was launched in 2008. We celebrated the tenth anniversary with a party during which we learned that:
- WhatDoTheyKnow was originally to have been given the snappy name Freedom of Information Filer and Archive, and when it was first conceived, we thought users would have to scan in the responses they received.
- The WhatDoTheyKnow team are ‘not FOI fans specifically’ and ‘would rather people didn’t have to make FOI requests’ (because information would be released proactively).
- mySociety’s Georgie can turn her hand to car repairs, and did just that for our Belgian partner Claude when he had the misfortune of a flat tyre right outside the party venue.
“I’m proud of the work we do. Quite often when I talk about it to people I meet, their faces light up, and they say ’I’ve used that loads!’.”
Head of Development
“I love that we’re working towards a society where power is more balanced.”
Events and Alaveteli Partnership Manager
Serendipity! The stars aligned, and WhatDoTheyKnow processed its half a millionth request… on International Right To Know Day.
WhatDoTheyKnow Pro makes everything easier for professional users of Freedom of Information.
After a year of research-based development and with support from Google Digital News Initiative, it’s now open to users on subscription.
We’ve continued to develop enhanced features that help busy journalists and campaigners to send, organise and process information requests in bulk.
Open information for Tunisia
A huge welcome to Informini, the latest site to be run on our Alaveteli software, opening up the Freedom of Information process for the people of Tunisia.
FOI for Councils
We wanted to ease the FOI process for those receiving requests, as well as the people making them.
So we worked with Hackney Council to understand what problems they commonly faced in the FOI process… and here’s the result: a front end that helps citizens make better requests, and tells them if the information’s already out there.
Early indications are that it’s already removing the need for 4.3% of requests, where users are shown that the information they’re about to ask for is available elsewhere.
What’s the research show?
We updated our FOI mini-site — on which you can explore Cabinet Office statistics in comparison to numbers from WhatDoTheyKnow — with the latest available statistics.
Show me the impact
After several stories based on requests made through through WhatdoTheyKnow Pro, Vote Leave’s alleged misspending was investigated by both the Electoral Commission and the Police, and mentioned in Parliament.
Unlock Democracy used the findings to underpin their Follow the Money campaign to change election law.
And while FOI didn’t have a direct link to Facebook’s release of targeted ads in an investigation of referendum meddling, it was definitely set in action by those original requests.
Debt Resistance UK used WhatDoTheyKnow to highlight the unfavourable LOBO loans taken out by many local authorities.
Campaigners uncovered the truth behind the contaminated blood scandal that led to a group legal action against the government.
Failures in the handling of disability benefits were uncovered by a persistent user, resulting in questions in Parliament.
We submitted evidence to the consultation on the FOI code of practice.
Help us with our work in Transparency Donate now
Who we met
“It was an honour to meet John Githongo, possibly one of the most famous whistleblowers in Kenyan history and the subject of this book.”
Events and Alaveteli Partnership Manager
“Claude, who runs the Belgian Alaveteli FOI site, orchestrates all sorts of cheeky stunts to highlight corruption and secrecy in his country’s government. And his positivity is very inspiring.”
Marketing & Communications Manager
What we made
Batch requests so WhatDoTheyKnow Pro users can submit requests to several authorities at once – responsibly!
FOI for Councils featuring an automated suggestion pool, for maximum efficiency
Easier admin for WhatDoTheyKnow Pro users categorising many responses at a time
New features for everyone running an FOI site on Alaveteli, with the latest version release