Royal Society president Paul Nurse was recently quoted as saying that Freedom of Information legislation had “opened a Pandora’s box. It’s released something that we hadn’t imagined…At times [the legislation] appears to be being used as a tool to stop scientists doing their work. That’s going to turn us into glue. We are just not going to be able to operate efficiently” (see Guardian via link below).
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 places a duty on public authorities to provide information within 20 working days of a request being made, subject to exemptions on a variety of grounds, such as the protection of personally sensitive data, the protection of national interests, trade secrets and commercial interests, legal privilege and a robust public-interest test. Universities, though independent charities, are public authorities for the purpose of the act.