Recent FoI stories

Back after an extended break, here's some FoI stories that have been in the news:

  • Financial data leaks put 16 million at risk (Computer Weekly, 16 October 2008)
    More than 16.5 million people were placed at risk of identity theft, after their details were lost or stolen from financial services firms. The figures, obtained by Computer Weekly under the Freedom of Information Act, show more than one in four UK consumers have been placed at risk by financial firms last year.
  • Details of firms taken to tribunals to be made public (Institute of Leadership & Management, 17 October 2008)
    The names and contact deals of firms involved in an employment tribunal must be made public, the Information Commissioner's Office has found. In a ruling made under the Freedom of Information Act, the body stated that there is a strong public information interest in this data being released. The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) opposed the move, maintaining that releasing the material would prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs. According to the BERR, publication of the information would leave organisations open to direct marketing, reduce the chance of informally resolving disputes and damage the reputation of firms.
    However, Graham Smith, deputy information commissioner, concluded that "there is a very weak – if any – public interest in maintaining the exemption".
  • Open e-mail requests earn award (Austin American-Statesman, 18 October 2008)
    The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas is presenting its 2008 James Madison Award to John Washburn, a software tester and citizen activist from Wisconsin who challenged the Texas governor's policy of deleting e-mails after only seven days. The award honors those whose appreciation and respect for the First Amendment and open government have been demonstrated by exemplary actions, words or deeds. Last year, Washburn began requesting e-mail records from Gov. Rick Perry's office twice a week as a way to thwart the destruction of those public records. Washburn has also offered advice to participants in the Sunshine Blogger Project, which resulted in the first survey of e-mail retention policies of governors' offices in several states.
  • Car parking nets council £20m from motorists (The Scotsman, 18 October 2008)
    Edinburgh's parking rules and regulations have handed the city council a record-breaking £20 million from motorists. The income from fines, pay-and-display tickets, and residential parking permits soared by more than £3m in the last financial year, according to new figures released under the Freedom of Information Act.