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If your question isn't answered here, or you just wanted to let us know something about the site, contact us.
Code of Access to Information officer questions #
- I just got here from bottom of a request, what is going on? #
accessinfo.hk is a service run to help ordinary members of the public make requests under the Code on Access to Information, and easily track and share the responses.
The request you received was made by someone using accessinfo.hk. You can simply reply to the request as you would any other request from an individual. The only difference is that your response will be automatically published on the Internet.
If you have privacy or other concerns, please read the answers below. You might also like to read the introduction to accessinfo.hk to find out more about what the site does from the point of view of a user. You can also search the site to find the authority that you work for, and view the status of any requests made using the site.
Finally, we welcome comments and thoughts from Access to Information officers, so please get in touch.
- Why are you publishing responses to requests? #
- We think there are lots of benefits. Most importantly it will encourage the public to be more interested and involved in the work of government. We also hope that it will reduce the number of duplicate requests on any subject that a public body will receive. Given that responses to Code on Access to Information requests contain public information, which anybody could easily request again from the public authority, we think there should be no reason not to publish it widely.
- Are the people making requests real people? #
- Yes. For the purposes of keeping track of responses we use computer-generated email addresses for each request. However, before they can send a request, each user must register on the site with a unique email address that we then verify. You can search this site and find a page listing all requests that each person has made.
- An email isn't a sufficient address for a request! #
- Yes it is.
- Aren't you making lots of vexatious requests? #
We are not making any requests. We are sending requests on behalf of our users, who are real people making the requests.
Look at it like this - if lots of different people made requests from different Hotmail email addresses, then you would not think that Microsoft were making vexatious requests. It is exactly the same if lots of requests are made via accessinfo.hk. Moreover, since all requests are public it is much easier for you to see if one of our users is making vexatious requests.
- I can see a request on accessinfo.hk, but we never got it by email!#
If a request appears on the site, then we have attempted to send it to the authority by email. Any delivery failure messages will automatically appear on the site. Contact us if there is a better address we can use.
Requests are sometimes not delivered because they are quietly removed by "spam filters" in the IT department of the authority. Authorities can make sure this doesn't happen by asking their IT departments to "whitelist" any email from @accessinfo.hk. If you ask us we will resend any request, and/or give technical details of delivery so an IT department can chase up what happened to the message.
- How do you calculate the deadline shown on request pages?#
Don't worry too much about this. The Code on Access to Information says that
The target response times set out in [...] the Code should be regarded as upper limits. Information should always be provided as quickly as possible and responses will therefore, in many cases, be made well within these target times.If you think you will need some extra time to respond to a request, just tell the requester as much, explaining in a sentence or two why that is the case. They will appreciate it, and the amout of hard work you do.
- Why do you publish the names of civil servants and the text of emails? #
- We consider what officers or servants do in the course of their employment to be public information. We will only remove content in exceptional circumstances.
- Do you publish email addresses or mobile phone numbers? #
To prevent spam, we automatically remove most emails and some mobile numbers from responses to requests. Please contact us if we've missed one. For technical reasons we don't always remove them from attachments, such as certain PDFs.
If you need to know what an address was that we've removed, please get in touch with us. Occasionally, an email address forms an important part of a response and we will post it up in an obscured form in an annotation.
- What is your policy on copyright of documents?#
- The Code on Access to Information is "applicant blind", so anyone in the world can request the same document and get a copy of it. If you think our making a document available on the internet infringes your copyright, you may contact us and ask us to take it down. However, to save taxpayers' money by preventing duplicate requests, and for good public relations, we'd advise you not to do that.