On May 16, 2016, the government approved the Transparency decree: since then Italy has finally, like other democracies, a FOIA, a Freedom of Information Actthat is a tool that guarantees citizens the right to access information from the Public Administration.
It is a revolution, but so was the way it came about, with one grassroots mobilization, largely digital and socialwhich lasted two years, which saw many associations join forces and skills to arrive at a result against which many fought.
The whole affair is reconstructed in a nice post from The Good Lobby, the reality that has taken the place of Riparte il Futuro, one of the promoters of the campaign for the FOIA. The beginning is identified in the speech that the Prime Minister made on 30 June 2014, committing himself to revolutionize the relationship between citizens and the PA: “We understand that the long-awaited moment has come. The time to exploit, together with the other national associations attentive to the issue, the interest of the government to intervene on transparency and digital innovation to finally introduce a FOIA also in Italy. Thus was born the Foia4Italy coalition… In this context it is fundamental the contribution of the parliamentary intergroup Innovationmade up of over 70 deputies and senators, who accepted the proposals presented by the Foia4Italy coalition, making them their own and pushing them to enter the reform of the Public Administration of Minister Madia ”.
The bill was written by some members of Foia4Italy and then submitted to popular consultation: “On February 18, 2015 the bill by Foia4Italy, integrated with the suggestions collected during the online consultation autumn 2014, is presented to the parliamentarians of the Innovation intergroup in a meeting in Montecitorio. Among the most important points is article 5, which overturns the relationship between institutions and citizens: it is no longer the citizen who has to demonstrate an interest in knowing information, but the administration must prove its existence. of reasons (provided for by law) that prevent it from giving the citizen the information requested. The turning point comes on April 20, 2015, after almost a year of mobilization, when during the Journalism Festival in Perugia, Anna Ascani, deputy PD and member of the Innovation intergroup, announces the inclusion of the FOIA within the reform of the Public Administration, which will be approved within the year. The starting point is the text of Foia4Italy “.
The lawyer Ernesto Belisario will write about it, one of the promoters of Foia4Italy: “It is said that the difference between a dream and a goal is the existence of a deadline. And then it can be said that the Italian FOIA, an advanced and modern transparency law, is now ending to be a dream and becomes a goal “. It seems done, but it is not: “On January 20, 2016 the Council of Ministers preliminarily approved a text of the legislative decree (part of the Public Administration reform) that was unsatisfactory and far from the requests made by the Foia4Italy coalition. What was supposed to be an American-style FOIA becomes an amatriciana FOIA… Already at a first reading the text is very disappointing: amid large exceptions and few obligations imposed on PAs, the decree risks restricting access to information. In fact, in the hands of the Public Administrations a very wide discretion remains “(here a breaking latest news of those days by Anna Masera for the Press).
The debate widens: the signatures collected by the coalition exceed 60 thousand, while the Council of State and the Anticorruption Authority (ANAC) intervene, and even Maurizio Crozza makes a very funny sketch on the limits of the FOIA all’amatriciana: “It is in this moment of strong media tension that Restarts the Future decides on 13 April 2016 to launch a bombing tweet against Prime Minister Renzi to ask him to change the text of the FOIA. The large amount of messages sent to the Prime Minister on the occasion of one of his direct social networks of the #MatteoRisponde convinces him to take the floor during the streaming and to promise a commitment to improvement … On 26 April 2016 the Foia4Italy coalition was received at Palazzo Vidoni directly by Minister Madia, who received the 82,000 signatures collected until that moment. On that occasion, the essential points for modifying the preliminary text approved in January 2016 are reiterated to the minister ”.
And we are at 16 May 2016: the FOIA is law, and it is a good law. The Good Lobby always writes: “Having access to information collected by the state, in the name of citizens and with citizens’ resources, is not a need only for journalists, lobbyists and experts. IS a universal right, which is the foundation of our freedom of expression because it is the prerequisite for full participation as citizens in democratic life “.