UFOs, Aliens, Parliament and the Freedom of Information Act

Granted, it is slightly outside my usual scope of work – not many aliens around the office today, and generally speaking, very little interaction with other planets – or scope of interest, as I am not really into administrative law. But a case note on this was hard to resist:

The German parliament (Bundestag) did commission from its scientific advisory staff, a study titled “The search for extraterrestrial life and the implementation of UN Resolution A/33/426 on the observation of unidentified flying objects and extraterrestrial life forms” (Die Suche nach außerirdischem Leben und die Umsetzung der VN-Resolution A/33/426 zur Beobachtung unidentifizierter Flugobjekte und extraterrestrischen Lebensformen).

And then, when a citizen wanted to see what the study was all about, they did try to cover up. First it was denied that the report existed. Then it was classified as confidential. Finally, copyright issues were argued in order to justify the decision not to release the report.

The Berlin Administrative Court (Verwaltungsgericht) was not convinced by any of these points. The court held that parliament must make the report available, under the Federal Freedom of Information Act (Gesetz zur Regelung des Zugangs zu Informationen des Bundes – Informationsfreiheitsgesetz).  From the press reports, it appears that parliament will appeal that decision. Now they really get me interested. Was it my local MP who commissioned the report?

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