Laws for freedom of information
So far, German authorities have worked under the assumption of official secrecy.
In order to view public administration records or retrieve information from them, citizens needed to prove a legitimate interest.
However, almost all industrialized Western countries give everyone the right to view records or retrieve information from them, without the need to legitimize their requests.
Germany has only been catching up to this international standard over the last few years.
More and more people are beginning to understand that a transparent public administration not just strengthens the democratic participation of all citizens and decreases political alienation, but also makes it more difficult for officials to engage in manipulation and corruption.
Everyone has full access to all authoritative and fiscal administrative procedures, without having to provide justification for their inquiry.
To protect this right, the Pirate Party demands the following minimum conditions for freedom of information laws:
- Exceptions, such as the protection of public interests, personal data and business secrets, must only be permitted where reasonable evidence can be provided and only under consideration of superordinate laws.
- People must be able to view and request information from records within a short, specified timeframe.
- The administrative fees for viewing records must be such that they do not obstruct the citizens‘ right to free information.
- Simple requests and viewing of records which require little administrative work should always be free.
- Rejections of requests must be justified and must be verifiable by a court.
- The adherence to freedom of information laws must be monitored by a freedom of information officer, whom everyone can contact with complaints.
Open contracts with businesses
Contracts between public institutions/agencies/government bodies/etc. and private businesses must be made public to create a more transparent state.
- Secret contracts with private business are not permissible.
- Previously closed contracts must be made accessible to the public.
- All calls for tenders must be transparent and public. After the award, all bids must be published, as well as the reasons for the selection of the winning bid.
- Calls for tenders must be designed in such a way that the contract cannot be completed by one previously selected company only.
- Contracts must be designed in such a way that the completion of the contract causes no greater danger to people and the environment than if the state had completed the contract.
- Information about contracts closed with the state (citizen, taxpayer) must always be made accessible to the general public, not just to a very limited circle of government representatives. No consideration can be given to alleged business secrets (e.g., costs, promised profits) included in contracts. In justified cases, e.g., in case of danger for life and limb, a limited exception (e.g., 10 years at most) can be defined, for which certain information included in contracts can be kept secret.
Protection of whistleblowers
It needs to become entrenched in the public conscience that whistleblowing is a form of moral courage which needs to be supported and protected. Journalistic sources are already considered valuable today and are well protected in Germany.
The German language has no exact translation for the term „whistleblower.“ To us, whistleblowers are people who publicize violations and illegal activity, such as corruption, insider trading or general hazards they witnesses at their workplace, during medical treatments, or on other occasions.
Protection of whistleblowers
The Pirate Party Germany understands that whistleblowers have an important corrective function in every free, democratic society. This requires, on one hand, the development of a general legal provision for the protection of whistleblowers. On the other hand, society must be informed that whistleblowers fulfill an important social function; for press informers, this is already established in the public conscience.
The Pirate Party Germany also rejects any separation into „good“ and „bad“ whistleblowers. The evaluation of whistleblowing cannot and must not depend on any country’s particular interest.
The Pirate Party Germany supports an urgently needed general legal provision for the protection of whistleblowers. The current whistleblowing legislation passed by the German Constitutional Court and the Federal Labor Court is not comprehensible to laymen. This creates significant legal uncertainty. Therefore, every whistleblower is exposed to incalculable risks under criminal and civil law. This requires that lawmakers give up the previous procedure of protecting individual legal areas and instead codify general and comprehensive protection for whistleblowers, including the necessary exemptions.