The recent and rapid changes in the ways in which information can be gathered, processed, stored and transmitted have added a qualitatively new dimension to modern society and to the government — citizen relationship. In this chapter we shall examine some major elements of this transformation and ways in which the Conservative government has responded under Margaret Thatcher. After a general overview, we shall examine three case studies of information policy. Our thesis is that there is no ‘government information policy’ as such, but a series of ad hoc responses to particular issues and events. The main purpose of government policy has been to serve the interests of the government itself rather than to shape policy in accord with a particular philosophical or ideological perspective. Nonetheless, we can identify responses which are strongly in keeping with the authoritarian, centralist and cost-cutting tendencies of Thatcherism but which at the same time contradict Thatcherite emphases on individual citizen participation, responsibility and choice.
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