Freedom of Information – as seen on TV!

Claire Walker

Datonomy doesn’t normally stray into Freedom of Information Act territory, nor TV reviews…However, we would like to make an exception for the highly watchable drama “On Expenses” shown again on BBC4 yesterday evening.

Tony Saint’s dramatisation of the MPs’ expenses controversy highlights the role of American journalist and FoI activist Heather Brooke in exposing the scandal. Heather is played by the fabulous Anna Maxwell Martin, with Brian Cox as former Speaker Michael Martin and a dashing Neil Pearson as Hugh Tomlinson QC.

Leaving aside the inherent drama of the expenses debacle (indeed, the words “you couldn’t make it up” featured in the opening credit sequence) the programme also provided a highly engaging and accessible one hour primer on the Freedom of Information Act itself.

So, returning to our home territory of DP, this got Datonomy thinking: would any script writer be willing to take up the challenge of dramatising the much-maligned Data Protection Act 1998? And if someone were to bring data protection to the big screen, what might such a tale be called? A fellow Datonomist has already (unkindly) suggested “The Big Sleep”. We would welcome readers’ suggestions…

For those more interested in the allure of Freedom of Information (and the power of tenacious investigative journalism) “On Expenses” is repeated on BBC4 at 22.30 on Thursday, and is available on iPlayer for the next six days here.

Meanwhile, Datonomy will keep to its day job of bringing you news and views on the latest developments in the world of data protection.

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