FOI - more than just a legislative gesture?

Much of the day-to-day business of government is closely linked with the private sector, especially in the areas of regulation and of government contracts. Public bodies receive, and therefore hold, a large amount of private sector information which is potentially available to anyone who asks for it. Consumer groups and commercial competitors could legitimately ask to see this information.

In the US and Canada companies that find out that information about them could be made public in response to a request often bring “reverse FoI” legal actions in an attempt to block disclosure.

"A cautious prediction is that one of the first British freedom of information cases to reach the courts will be a “reverse FoI” action, despite the efforts in drafting the Act to make it as judge-proof as possible."

Is this new freedom an empty gesture? (The Times, 11 January 2005)