Currently, around 90% of all FoI requests are media-related. It is not acceptable for the tax payer to subsidise the collection of data which is then used by commercial bodies for their own financial gain. At the very least, those organisations should cover the costs of collection. We are paying for the Civil Servants who respond to the FoI requests – and we also pay the media through License Fee and for newspapers. We then pay the politicians who are required to comment on the stories based on the FoI results. As tax payers, this is poor use of our money, benefitting media organisations and not us, and distracting our political leadership from the tasks they should be completing on our behalf.
The idea is that all organisations or individuals with a commercial interest or who obtain commerial reward who submit Freedom of Information requests are charged for the work involved in gathering that information. They would be asked to declare their position when submitting the request and pay a registration fee. On completion, they would be billed for the work done to generate the information with the appropriate limits and quotes to minimise excessive charges.