UK Freedom of Information E-news - February 2011

28/02/2011
Tags:
  1. Government announces bodies to be included in FOI extension
  2. 30-year rule reduced to 20
  3. The Information Commissioner will become fully independent of the Ministry of Justice

1. Protection of Freedoms Bill will be debated 1 March

The Protection of Freedoms Bill, which includes several DP and FOI aspects, was presented to Parliament on 11 February 2011. The Second Reading and debate will take place on 1 March.

One of the aspects of the Act is a FOIA requirement for organisations to proactively release ‘datasets’.

By datasets is meant:
information comprising a collection of information held in electronic form where all or most of the information in the collection

(a) has been obtained or recorded for the purpose of providing a public authority with information in  connection with the provision of a service by the authority or the carrying out of any other function of the authority,

(b) is factual information which
(i) is not the product of analysis or interpretation other than calculation, and
(ii) is not an official statistic (within the meaning given by section 6(1) of the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007), and

(c) remains presented in a way that (except for the purpose  of forming part of the collection) has not been organised,  adapted or otherwise materially altered since it was obtained or recorded.”

Read more about the bill in the next issue of PL&B UK Report, due late March. The bill is at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2010-2011/0146/cbill_2010-20110146_en_1.htm

2. Redaction does not count towards costs

A High Court decision of 21 January confirms the ICO’s position that time spent redacting exempt material does not count towards the ‘appropriate limit’ when calculating costs.

The 'appropriate limit' exemption allows public authorities to refuse a request under section 12(1) of the Freedom of Information Act if they estimate that the cost of answering it would exceed £600 for any government department or £450 for any other public bodies.

The ICO previous guidance on the topic thus remains unchanged (see http://www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documents/library/freedom_of_information/detailed
_specialist_guides/fees_regulations_guidance_v2.pdf

and http://www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documents/library/freedom_of_information/practical
_application/redactingandextractinginformation.pdf

The High Court decision is at http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2011/44.html

3. Your views sought on ICO guidance

The ICO is sometimes criticised for publishing too long or vague guidance, or not fully understanding a business point of view. Now is your chance to give feedback on the matter. The ICO aims to make its guidance more relevant and has launched a consultation, which closes on 15 March. The ICO wants to hear your views on whether the guidance covers the right subjects, there is enough of it, it is easily accessible and is in the right format.

The feedback form is at
http://www.ico.gov.uk/conference2011/~/media/documents/dpo_conference_2011
/dpo_conference_2011_ico_guidance_survey.ashx

For further details on the Privacy Laws & Business UK Newsletter, please click here.

Copyright Privacy Laws & Business 2011

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