The Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information

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Bonn,  13/06/2019

Press release 18/2019

Freedom of Information Commissioners of the Federal Government and of the Länder call for compulsory lobby registers

In order to increase citizens’ trust in politics, the 37th Conference of Freedom of Information Commissioners (German abbreviation “IFK”) called for the mandatory introduction of lobby registers at their meeting that took place yesterday in Saarbrucken. The Conference also published proposals on how the digital transformation of the public administration can contribute to greater transparency.

The resolution entitled “Transparency in the context of political decision-making processes - introduction of a compulsory lobby register” is intended as an appeal to the legislators of the Federal Government and the Länder which aims at documenting the influence of lobbyists, in particular in the context of legislative procedures, and thus at making those procedures understandable for the public.

Mr. Jürgen H. Müller, who participated in the Conference as Deputy Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information for the BfDI, confirmed the importance of the concerted effort: In recent years, individual scandals and incidents have unfortunately led to a loss of public confidence in political decision-making processes. However, it is precisely the trust in the state that is indispensable for a functioning democracy. Lobby registers would mean a chance to shed light on at least a part of political activities which are obscure and non-transparent for most citizens and thus can help to win back some trust.

Furthermore, in a joint position paper, the Freedom of Information Commissioners have addressed the issues of how the digital transformation in the public administration can be designed in a constructive and citizen-friendly manner. To this end, the Conference called for “freedom of information by design”. The IFK formulates concrete framework conditions and measures which can help to ensure that transparency in the administration will play an important role even during the development phase of technical-organisational measures.

The IFK is an association of the Freedom of Information Commissioners of the Federal Administration and of the Länder aiming at promoting Freedom of Information.