The following post is from Friedrich Lindenberg and Stefan Wehrmeyer from OKF Deutschland.

Today the Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland is launching a new Freedom of Information (FOI) portal called “Frag den Staat”. The new site enables citizens, journalists and researchers to request information from over 830 federal agencies and institutions across Germany. Requests can be tracked on the site, creating a public archive of official documents.

Like many other European countries, Germany has had FOI legislation in place on a federal level since 2006, but many states are still missing such laws. The use of requests is not wide-spread even amongst journalists, however, and when it is attempted information is often withheld through bureaucratic tricks.

The new site is part of an ongoing discussion involving many civil society organisations, officials and the data privay and freedom of information commissioners of both Bund and Länder on how to promote the use of this useful legislation and to make its outcome more transparent.

Germany’s FOI laws are also up for a review, with exciting proposals already published by Greenpeace Germany and the Green Party. Another interesting development is Germany’s smallest state, Bremen, in which FOI legislation now mandates the preemptive publication of many official documents on the web.

With a broad alliance of organisations, including Access Info Europe, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Informationsfreiheit e.V., Deutsche Journalistinnen- und Journalisten-Union, Deutscher Journalisten-Verband e.V., Digitale Gesellschaft e.V., Legal Leaks, Mehr Demokratie e.V., netzwerk recherche e.V., n-ost Netzwerk für Osteuropa-Berichterstattung e.V., Open Data Network e.V. and Transparency International Deutschland e.V supporting the platform, we hope that, too, may set some signs in this debate.