Friday, October 28, 2005

Publication on web in Scotland is not "public" enough!

The latest Brodies Solicitors free technology law supplement helpfully tells me of an intersting recent Scottish Fredom of Information decision.

In Decision 001/2005, Mr l and the Lothian & Borders Safety Camera Partnership (17 May 2005)
Mr L requested sight of the calibration certificate for equipment used in an alleged speeding offence.The Partnership argued that the information was already "otherwise accessible" under s 25 of the FOI (SC) Act by virtue of it being on the Partnership’s website. As it turned out, the particular calibration
certificate was not actually on their website at the time of the request. However, the Commissioner provided his view , making reference to the fact that most deprived households were without internet access according to the Social Justice Annual Report 2003:
“In my view therefore it is not yet possible to say that information which is solely provided on a website is reasonably accessible to people in Scotland”

This must be an expensive blow for public authorities. The commissioner stated that “where [the authority] receives a request for the information to be made
available in another format, e.g. in paper form posted to a home address, then it should do so unless there are overriding technical or cost implications.”

Other recent decisions mainly question the relationship between release of information under FOI and the protection of personal data under data protection law. This is shaping up to be a very controversial area.

No comments: