UK Freedom of Information E-news - June 2011

  1. ICO consults on its information rights strategy
  2. ICO: Names of public sector workers earning over £150,000 to be disclosed

1. ICO consults on its information rights strategy

The ICO says it wants to integrate its data protection and freedom of information activities wherever possible. This means a risk-based approach and emphasising education and awareness building on the basis that “prevention is better than cure”. The ICO intends to ‘use casework and enforcement activities as opportunities to educate organisations, set an example and drive wider good practice’. The ICO says that ‘in handling cases we will ensure that public authorities and other organisations retain responsibility for resolving information rights problems that are of their own making’.

The ICO seeks to achieve a high level of awareness in organisations and good information rights practice embedded into the culture and day-to-day processes of organisations. It promotes a ‘legislative framework for information rights that is consistent with good information rights practice, furthers the upholding of information rights and enables the ICO to be an effective regulator’.

The consultation document was published in May and is open until 12 August 2011. 

2. ICO: Names of public sector workers earning over £150,000 to be disclosed

The Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, has ordered the Cabinet Office to disclose the names of 24 public sector workers who earn more than £150,000. The Cabinet Office had withheld the salary information of 24 individuals as these persons had not given their consent, and said that a disclosure would breach the first data protection principle (fair processing). However, the Commissioner thought that there is a strong legitimate public interest in the public knowing how its money is spent.

Christopher Graham said:

“If you are earning over £150,000 working for a body that is funded by the public purse then there is now a legitimate expectation that your name and salary details will be disclosed. Being open and transparent is an integral part of being accountable to the taxpayer and, like it or not, this level of disclosure goes with the territory.”

The Commissioner also made it clear that the salary of most Chief Executives in government agencies will be published in the annual report of their organisation anyway.

The decision notice is here.

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

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