LEGISLATION governing access to public information is “frozen in time” and needs to be overhauled, a watchdog has said.

Daren Fitzhenry, the Scottish Information Commissioner, said the world had moved on since the Freedom of Information Act was established.

He said there now needed to be a “comprehensive look” at the law to bring it up to date with the modern world.

It comes after he mounted an investigation into the Scottish Government’s transparency record following complaints from the media.

He found FoI requests from journalists, MSPs and political researchers were “expressly made subject to a different process for clearance than other requester groups” – a practice which was inconsistent with the legislation.

Speaking to Holyrood's Public Audit Committee, he called for the legislation to be re-examined.

He said: “It’s been some time since the Act was obviously enacted to begin with.

“Society has changed somewhat over that time. We had a situation whereby fewer than 50 per cent of households had internet access back in 2002.

“We’re now at a situation whereby it’s comfortably into the 80s. We’ve got a society that demands more information, expects more information.

“We’ve got a number of other initiatives. We’ve got open government, open data, digital strategies.

“The world has not stopped, but the Act is sort of frozen in time.

“We certainly did have some scrutiny and amendment in 2013, but it wasn’t a comprehensive look.

“There are still a number of areas – particularly in relation to proactive publication – where I think we could develop matters further.

“And also in relation to proactive intervention to improve authority practice, which is where a lot of the concerns about the current system lie.”

Mr Fitzhenry previously found evidence journalists had been “significantly less likely to receive information” from the Scottish Government.

He said there had been “unjustifiable, significant delays” and disregard for legal timescales.

And he called on Scottish ministers to end their practice of treating journalists, MSPs and political researchers differently “because of who or what they are”.

The Scottish Government said it accepted the findings of his report in full, and confirmed internal guidance would be updated with immediate effect.