FOIA datasets provisions in force from 1 September

The changes introduced to the FOIA by the Protection of Freedoms Act will enter into force on 1 September 2013. This means that public authorities will face a new requirement to make datasets available for re-use in a re-usable format.

The code of practice on datasets, issued by the Ministry of Justice under section 45 of the FOIA, was published on 17 July. The code provides guidance for public authorities on good practice, for example on deciding whether it would be practicable to provide the dataset.

Public authorities can take into account all the relevant circumstances, for example, the time and the cost involved in converting the dataset to a re-usable format, and the resources available to the public authority.

However, if the public authority decides that it would not be reasonably practicable to provide the dataset in a re-usable format, the authority must still provide the dataset in another format.

The ICO will publish its guidance soon.

See the Secretary of State's Code of Practice (datasets) on the discharge of public authorities' functions under Part 1 of the Freedom of Information