What is the Freedom of Information Act?

By Myles Dacres

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI) provides the public with access to information held by public authorities.

The FOI requires public authorities to publish certain information about their activities, it also gives members of the public the right to request information from those authorities.

The Act applies to any recorded information held by a public authority in England, Wales and Northern Island, or on their behalf. Scotland has its own Freedom of Information Act established in 2002.

Government departments, local authorities, the NHS, state schools and the police forces are all affected by the FOI Act, as well as their service providers. There are certain exemptions, for example, charities that receive grants and certain private sector organisations that perform public functions are not covered under the act.

Other exemptions include:

  1. classified information for national defense or foreign policy
  2. internal personnel rules and practices
  3. information that is exempt under other laws
  4. trade secrets and confidential business information
  5. inter-agency or intra-agency memoranda or letters that are protected by legal privileges
  6. personnel and medical files
  7. law enforcement records or information
  8. information concerning bank supervision
  9. geological and geophysical information

Recorded information includes printed documents, computer files, letters, emails, photographs, and sound or video recordings.

As a member of the public you can not request your own personal Data under the Act, if you want to see the information a public authority hold on you, you will have to submit a Subject Access Request.

On the 11th of August, Data Protection People are hosting a session on the Freedom of Information Act and Subject Access Requests.

join our consultants to share experiences of working with the FOIA and share your thoughts and ideas on how to handle both FOI and SAR requests.

If you would like to join our FREE Webinar, get in touch with: [email protected]

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