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WhatDoTheyKnow.com, "Annoying" British Officials Since 2008, Makes Its 100,000th Freedom of Information Request

BY Raphael Majma | Friday, January 13 2012

Wednesday night, WhatDoTheyKnow.com made its 100,000th request under the United Kingdom's Freedom of Information Act. The site, a product of MySociety.org and one of its democracy and transparency websites for the citizens of the UK, has been sending out requests on behalf of its users to various government agencies since February, 2008. Once a user makes a request through the site, any answer received from an agency is immediately posted on the site for the public to see. If a user is unhappy with her response, whether it was deemed inadequate or the request was refused, the site allows for the user to request an internal review. If all else fails, the user can make a separate, more narrowly focused request. Currently, the site boasts 63,550 responses from various government agencies.

Notable information releases include a request about how taxes applied to the royal family which, the MySociety crew points out, led to an article in the Daily Mail. They have also noted that the newfound ease with which citizens could ask for information was not universally well received.

"The WhatDoTheyKnow site - which facilitates the making of FOI requests - has been more successful than I expected in terms of the number of requests which have been made via the site," he wrote at the time. "But it also seems to be annoying some of those people on the receiving end of the requests."

In 2011, WhatDoTheyKnow's fourth year in existence, the site garnered 1.5 million unique visitors, MySociety's team writes.