PL&B FOI E-news, Issue 29

1. Tribunal orders Ofcom to release mobile phone base station data

The Information Tribunal has ruled that Ofcom is to release data about each mobile phone base station held within the Sitefinder database together with the national grid references for each site.

Ofcom first refused the request claiming that the information was publicly available. After an internal review, it found that not all of the requested data was available, and refused the information based on the FOIA exemption for National Security and Public Safety, and the exemption for Intellectual Property Rights.

The case was, however, dealt under the Environmental Information Regulations at the Tribunal, and the Tribunal therefore reached its decision on different grounds to those set out in the ICO Decision Notice.

The Tribunal’s decision can be seen here.

2. ICO to launch new disclosure policy

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) new policy for proactive disclosure is part of its revision of publication schemes. The office says that organisations should adopt the following three elements:

- A model publication scheme, developed and approved by the ICO. The model can be adopted wholesale and provides a simple means by which public authorities can proactively disclose information.

- A document which will give sector-specific guidance on the type of information that should be proactively disclosed.

- A guide to information routinely made available by the public authority. This will be created by the public authority and will act as a guide to the content of the publication scheme. This section does not require approval by the ICO.

The office will soon release the policy document for public consultation.

3. Government undecided about fees regulations

The consultation on FOI fees regulations closed on 21 June. At the time, the Ministry of Justice said that the Government will publish a formal response within the next three months. Now that the three months have passed, we are not any closer to finding out what the Government’s thinking is. A statement, received from the Ministry of Justice on 28 September, said: ‘The Government is still considering next steps on the fees regulations and will make an announcement in due course.'

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Copyright Privacy Laws & Business 2007