[OKFN-EN] [open-government] The world needs better lobbyist registers - but the UK's proposed lobbying bill won't help

Greg Brown gbrown at sunlightfoundation.com
Thu Sep 5 16:38:14 UTC 2013

Hi all,


As Julia has just mentioned, Sunlight is collecting information on how
other countries regulate lobbying, determining which systems are most
effective, and thinking through how we can assist efforts to regulate
lobbyists around the world. While we have long been a leading voice on
lobbying transparency in the US, we want to expand our reach to the
international community.


In pursuit of this goal, we’ve started a deep dive looking at countries
around the world that regulate lobbying. To see some of our early findings,
see this public
This spreadsheet will continue to be filled out as our research progresses.
We also welcome updates from the community.


All in all, lobbying regulations exist in shockingly few countries: US,
Canada, Israel, Australia, Taiwan, a handful of European countries, and a
few others. And even among these countries, a number of the regulatory
schemes are entirely toothless, like the voluntary systems of France,
Germany, and the EU or the weak laws of Georgia and Macedonia, which fail
to properly define what constitutes lobbying activity.


Once we have a better understanding of lobbying regulation around the
world, we will explore developing a set of globally applicable guidelines,
which will draw from both our domestic advocacy
work<http://sunlightfoundation.com/policy/one-pagers/ldea/>and our
The goal is to empower advocates working towards greater transparency in
lobbying and to push governments to adopt effective new measures to
regulate the influence of lobbyists. Please keep an eye out for more on
this in the coming months.


In this effort, we hope to assist those who are working towards a more
transparent democratic system that is beholden to all citizens, not just
lobbyists and influence peddlers.




On Thu, Sep 5, 2013 at 9:24 AM, Julia Keserű <jkeseru at sunlightfoundation.com
> wrote:

> Jonathan, Sunlight has just started a deep dive in country level lobbying
> regulations. I'm on vacation right now but my colleagues, Greg and Lisa
> will fill you in with more details very soon.
> In the meanwhile though, here's a great resource on lobbying laws:
> http://www.regulatelobbying.com/
> Best, Julia
> ---------- Továbbított üzenet ----------
> Feladó: "Jonathan Gray" <jonathan.gray at okfn.org>
> Dátum: 2013.09.05. 11:35
> Tárgy: [open-government] The world needs better lobbyist registers - but
> the UK's proposed lobbying bill won't help
> Címzett: "open-government at lists.okfn.org" <open-government at lists.okfn.org>,
> <okfn-en at lists.okfn.org>
> Hi all,
> I thought some of you might be interested in the following post on the
> Open Knowledge Foundation blog on the importance of lobbyist registers and
> how the UK's currently proposed lobbying bill won't result in a decent one
> without some important changes.
> I've been thinking that it might be useful to have a list of lobby
> registers and related legislation from different countries around the world
> - highlighting their strengths and weaknesses from a transparency
> perspective. Does anyone know of anything like this? If not, might anyone
> be interested in contributing to such a resource?
> As I allude to in the post, we'd like to see every country in the world
> with a decent register of lobbyists, and perhaps this kind of comparative
> roundup could be valuable for people working on policy or advocacy in this
> area.
> All the best,
> Jonathan
> September 4, 2013 in Featured <http://blog.okfn.org/category/featured/>, Open
> Data <http://blog.okfn.org/category/open-data/>, Open Government Data<http://blog.okfn.org/category/open-government-data/>
> , Policy <http://blog.okfn.org/category/policy/>
> Lobbyist registers are supposed to enable citizens to find out who is
> lobbying whom for what, and how much they are spending in the process.
> They are supposed to help to safeguard against big money having an unfair
> influence in politics – ultimately to ensure that political decisions are
> based on argument, evidence and democratic deliberation, and not bought
> with cash from the highest bidder.
> *We think lobbyist registers are an essential part of government
> transparency, and that every country in the world ought to have one.*
> Furthermore we think it is essential that lobbyist registers are published
> as open data <http://okfn.org/opendata> so that their contents can be
> easily analysed, queried, and connected with other information sources.
> As we’re increasingly seeing corporations and special interest groups
> lobbying across borders, we’d like to track how big money is shaping
> discussion and decisions about issues that matter – from energy and the
> environment to tax and trade – in countries around the world.
> We think that this kind of inquiry is essential for democracies to
> function.
> Map showing how much firms spend lobbying the EU<http://api.lobbyfacts.eu/map> created
> at Open Interests Europe Hackathon<http://okfnlabs.org/events/hackdays/lobbying.html> organised
> by OKFN Labs <http://okfnlabs.org/>
> While the UK is a world leader in opening up its public data,
> unfortunately *the proposedLobbying Bill<http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2013-14/transparencyoflobbyingnonpartycampaigningandtradeunionadministration.html> in
> its current form will not deliver the lobbyist register that the UK needs*
> .
> Aside from widespread concerns that it will have a “chilling effect on
> civil society and its freedom of expression”<http://www.civilsociety.co.uk/governance/news/content/15918/charity_lawyer_warns_new_lobbying_bill_poses_existential_threat_to_charity_campaigning>,
> the bill contains major loopholes and omissions which means that it will
> not deliver real or meaningful transparency around lobbying in the UK.
> Firstly, *the bill would only apply to a fraction of the UK’s £2 billion
> lobbying industry*. It would only require disclosures from those *whose
> main business is lobbying*. Hence it would not cover companies who have
> in-house lobbyists, big lobbying consultancies who offer a range of
> services, and other entities which offer lobbying services such as think
> tanks, law firms or management consultancies. And for those whose main
> business is lobbying it only covers those who lobby the highest echelons of
> government – not special advisers or mid-level civil servants.
> Secondly, *the bill would require lobbyists to disclose very little
> information about their activities*. Essentially it asks lobbyists for a
> list of their clients and nothing at all about which issues they lobby on,
> which departments they target, or how much they are paid.
> We at the Open Knowledge Foundation sincerely hope that the proposed bill
> will be revised to address these and other limitations.
> If the bill goes ahead as it is, then it will be a significant missed
> opportunity for government openness in the UK, and a major blow to the
> government’s aspiration to be – in the words of the Prime Minister – “the
> most open and transparent government in the world”.
> *If you’d like to read more you can take a look at SpinWatch’s analysis<http://www.lobbyingtransparency.org/images/spinwatchpcrcevidence.pdf>.
> While MPs voted for a second reading last night<http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm130903/debtext/130903-0001.htm#13090336000002>,
> there’s still time to ask them to reconsider the bill. If you’re based in
> the UK you can write to your MP either via SpinWatch’s form<http://www.spinwatch.org/index.php/campaigns/lobbying-register> or
> with your own message atWriteToThem <http://www.writetothem.com/>.*
> --
> Jonathan Gray
> Director of Policy and Ideas  | *@jwyg <https://twitter.com/jwyg>*
> The Open Knowledge Foundation <http://okfn.org/>
> *
> Empowering through Open Knowledge
> okfn.org  |  @okfn <http://twitter.com/OKFN>  |  OKF on Facebook<https://www.facebook.com/OKFNetwork> |
> Blog <http://blog.okfn.org/>  |  Newsletter<http://okfn.org/about/newsletter>
> *
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*Greg Brown*
Policy Fellow | Sunlight Foundation <http://sunlightfoundation.com/>
(630) 379-3809 | @GregBrownm
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