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

Jonathan Gray jonathan.gray at okfn.org
Thu Sep 5 16:42:37 UTC 2013

Fantastic work guys! :-)

This is a great start towards the kind of overview I was thinking could be
useful. There's definitely scope for more guidance and succinct analysis
around this - and imagine this is something you'll also be thinking about.

Do keep us in the loop and let us know if you need any input!

All the best,


On 5 September 2013 18:38, Greg Brown <gbrown at sunlightfoundation.com> wrote:

> 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 spreadsheet<https://docs.google.com/a/sunlightfoundation.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Av_Sh9ghfOyHdDBQd1B4aHdFQmJsQUxpMHlKOXBQbFE#gid=0>.
> 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 international
> research<https://docs.google.com/a/sunlightfoundation.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Av_Sh9ghfOyHdDBQd1B4aHdFQmJsQUxpMHlKOXBQbFE#gid=0>.
> 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.
> *
> *
> Thanks,
> Greg
> 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
> OpeningParliament.org


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
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