Thursday, 10 November 2011
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Tuesday, 12 July 2011
You could say I should get out more but I'm always excited when my RSS feed delivers me a batch of new ICO decision notices (DNs). I think that the publication of these DNs is one of the most useful outputs from the ICO website. Whilst not formally legal precedent, the DNs show how the FOI is a living, evolving, contested entity embracing a huge array of information. If you want to demonstrate that FOI is not just journalists and prospective suppliers, read some Decision Notices.
The Decision Notices show how a case can be made effectively by an authority to explain why an exemption is engaged. They can show the tenacity and commitment of a requester trying to access information. And they show the ICO as a body trying to be flexible and fair in its rulings. As last week's annual report demonstrated, the ICO is getting quicker and more efficient at reaching decisions on these cases.
The 'big' ICO DNs and tribunal decisions are covered in depth across the web and twitter. I like to try and look at some of the DNs that cover interesting areas of process or procedure. Recent ones that interested me are as follows:
This decision once again re-iterates that Whatdotheyknow.com is considered by the ICO to be a perfectly valid platform for making information requests and responding to them.
The authority had a issued Section 12 'exceeding appropriate limits' response and been been rigorous in providing a minutes-per-file calculation of the time it would take. The requester then asked the public authority to conduct a random sampling of the records in order to come in under the limit. The ICO concurred with the authority that the request could be refused 'on the grounds that the Freedom of Information Act provides a right of access to information, it does not entitle an applicant to require a public authority to perform specified tasks'. I think this covers an interesting area which shows the limits of both what constitutes 'extraction', 'creation of new information' and 'advice and assistance'.
This is two ICO Decision Notices on responses to what I think is the same 'round robin' request for the same information. Two different approaches by the public authorities and two quite different outcomes. A good example of the ICO treating each case according to its individual circumstances.