Decisions Round-up: 24 to 28 October 2016

 Can personal data be accessed under FOI? More advice in this week's Round-up:


Learning points:


  • Personal data can sometimes be disclosed
    Personal data can be disclosed under FOI if certain conditions are met. Generally, it's easier to meet these conditions if the information relates to a person's professional life, and when the person holds a position of seniority or public office. In Decision 221/2016, we ordered disclosure of names, email addresses and job titles in order to provide context for information disclosed from emails. We accepted that the email correspondence might be interpreted differently, if the participants were known.


  • Applying the harm test - there must be a clear link between disclosure and harm
    Decision 222/2016 involves a case where the authority did not make a strong case to show that disclosure of information would have harmful consequences, but relied on speculative arguments which we didn't accept. When applying any exemption with a "harm test", an authority should be able to evidence the specific harm that would result from the disclosure.


Decisions issued:


  • Decision 221/2016 ABW Consultants Ltd and West Lothian Council
    The Council was asked for information about funding for the Voluntary Sector Gateway. It provided some information, and withheld some personal data. During our investigation, the Council disclosed some information which it had wrongly believed would fall outside the scope of the request. We ordered disclosure of information which was the personal data of senior staff members and elected representatives (in this case, their names, email addresses and job titles/designations).


  • Decision 222/2016 Paul Hutcheon and Police Scotland
    Mr Hutcheon asked for information about Covert Human Intelligence Sources. Police Scotland initially failed to respond, then withheld some of the information under the exemptions for law enforcement and health and safety. We found that the reasons put forward by Police Scotland were speculative and didn't show why disclosure of the information would result in the harm they anticipated.


  • Decisions 223/2016 Mr D and Dundee City Council
    We found that the Council had failed to respond to Mr D's request for review on time. Mr D had asked for information about the number of people issued with a caution, and the deletion or destruction of cautions.

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