October 2006 Archives

Apparently the DWP FOI Focus Centre tried unsuccessfully to email a response to our Q1 and Q2 2006 List of Uses - DWP Longitudinal Study - FOIA request

After another failed attempt today, another DWP official, in the department which deals with FOI internal reviews (which we had requested into the handling of the request) managed to forward the email ok.

Perhaps they have a problem with their X400 email gateway to the .gsi.gov.uk Government Secure Intranet gateway to the Internet.

We seem to slow shuffling along into the unexplored swamps of the Freedom of Information Act appeals process.

We have received a heavy packet of papers from the Information Tribunal as an "interested party" in the pending Appeal by the Office for Government Commerce against the Information Commissioner's Decision Notice in favour of disclosing the early, and now obsolete, Gateway Reviews of the Home Office's potentially disastrous Identity Cards Programme scheme.

See "Treasury hires expensive lawyers to try to overturn the Decision Notice in our favour regarding Gateway Reviews of the Identity Cards Programme"

This is all well and good, but if we do "join the appeal", it will then be held partly or totally in private, precisely to prevent us, the original Freedom of Information Act request complainant from being shown or hearing any extracts of the Gateway Review reports in question.

Both the lawyers for the Information Commissioner and the Treasury Solicitor Grainne Ross, would not object to us being joined to the Appeal, but they both point out the limited value of any possible written or oral submissions that we could make, since the Gateway Review documents would still be kept secret from us during the proceedings.

We agree with these views, and so we are resigned to having to wait whilst large sums of public money are wasted on legal fees during this Appeal, which we firmly believe should still find in our favour i.e. in favour of the public interest of full public disclosure and publication of these documents.

The other hugely frustrating thing is the it seems that the Oral hearing for the Appeal is set for a 4 day hearing not before 5th March 2007
i.e. 2 years and 3 months after the original Freedom of Information Act request

This lengthy delay, and complicated proceedings, and expensive legal fees paid for by the taxpayer, run completely counter to the supposed "open government" policy, which the Freedom of Information Act is supposed to promote.

We will write to John Angel, the Chairman of the Information Tribunal accordingly.

UPDATE:

According to the Information Tribunal Pending Appeals document dated 6th December 2006 (.pdf), It looks as if the Appeal hearing is now set for

Full hearing 12,13,14 and 16th March 2007 at Procession House London

Currently the status of the Office of Government Commerce appeal to the Information Tribunal against the Information Commiissioner's Decision Notice in our favour is:

Case No. Case name Type of appeal ICO ref Public Authority Involved Current Status Hearing time and venue Date Received by Information Tribunal
EA/2006/0068 Office of Government Commerce v The Information Commissioner FOI FS50070196 Office of Government Commerce Awaiting Chairmans directions   30/08/2006

It appears that the unlimited resoirces of the Treasury are being harnessed tot try to overturn this Decision Notice in favour of full disclosure of the reports we asked to be published in our FOIA request

Kablent reports via The Register:

Treasury fights to keep Gateway closed
'Defending integrity', apparently
By Kablenet
Published Friday 20th October 2006 09:27 GMT

The government has hired legal experts in an effort to block publication of Gateway reviews of the National Identity Card programme.

Legal representation will come from the Treasury's Solicitors department, which has had approval to bring in external legal experts and a Queen's Counsel to fight a decision by the information commissioner, Richard Thomas, that two Gateway Reviews on ID cards can be published. The use of legal experts is expected to cost between £20,000 and £50,000.

About this blog

This United Kingdom based blog has been spawned from Spy Blog, and is meant to provide a place to track our Freedom of Information Act 2000 requests to United Kingdom Government and other Public Authorities.

If you have suggestions for other FOIA requests,  bearing in mind the large list of exemptions, then email them to us, or use the comments facility on this blog, and we will see  what we can do, without you yourself having to come under the direct scrutiny of  "Sir Humphrey Appleby" or his minions.

Email Contact

Please feel free to email us your views about this website or news about the issues it tries to comment on:

email: blog @spy[dot]org[dot]uk

Here is our PGP public encryption key or download it via a PGP Keyserver.

WhatDoTheyKnow.com

WhatDoTheyKnow.com - FOIA request submission and publication website from MySociety.org

Campaign Button Links

Watching Them, Watching Us - UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign
UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign

NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card
NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card and National Identity Register centralised database.

Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.
Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.

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FreeFarid.com - Kafkaesque extradition of Farid Hilali under the European Arrest Warrant to Spain

Peaceful resistance to the curtailment of our rights to Free Assembly and Free Speech in the SOCPA Designated Area around Parliament Square and beyond
Parliament Protest blog - resistance to the Designated Area restricting peaceful demonstrations or lobbying in the vicinity of Parliament.

Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans
Data Retention is No Solution - Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans.

Save Parliament: Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)
Save Parliament - Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)

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Open Rights Group

The Big Opt Out Campaign - opt out of having your NHS Care Record medical records and personal details stored insecurely on a massive national centralised database.

Tor - the onion routing network
Tor - the onion routing network - "Tor aims to defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal anonymity and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security. Communications are bounced around a distributed network of servers called onion routers, protecting you from websites that build profiles of your interests, local eavesdroppers that read your data or learn what sites you visit, and even the onion routers themselves."

Tor - the onion routing network
Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress and Tor - useful Guide published by Global Voices Advocacy with step by step software configuration screenshots (updated March 10th 2009).

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Amnesty International's irrepressible.info campaign

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BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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NGO in a box - Security Edition privacy and security software tools

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Home Office Watch blog, "a single repository of all the shambolic errors and mistakes made by the British Home Office compiled from Parliamentary Questions, news reports, and tip-offs by the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs team." - does this apply to the Conservative - Liberal Democrat coalition government as well ?

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Reporters Without Borders - Reporters Sans Frontières - campaign for journalists 'and bloggers' freedom in repressive countries and war zones.

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Committee to Protect Bloggers - "devoted to the protection of bloggers worldwide with a focus on highlighting the plight of bloggers threatened and imprisoned by their government."

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Icelanders are NOT terrorists ! - despite Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling's use of anti-terrorism legislation to seize the assets of Icelandic banks.

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No CCTV - The Campaign Against CCTV

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I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist !

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Power 2010 cross party, political reform campaign

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Cracking the Black Box - "aims to expose technology that is being used in inappropriate ways. We hope to bring together the insights of experts and whistleblowers to shine a light into the dark recesses of systems that are responsible for causing many of the privacy problems faced by millions of people."

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Open Rights Group - Petition against the renewal of the Interception Modernisation Programme

Yes, Minister

Yes, Minister Series 1, Episode 1, "Open Government" First airtime BBC: 25 February 1980

"Bernard Woolley: "Well, yes, Sir...I mean, it [open government] is the Minister's policy after all."
Sir Arnold: "My dear boy, it is a contradiction in terms: you can be open or you can have government."

FOIA Links

Campaign for the Freedom of Information

Office of the Information Commissioner,
who is meant to regulate the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Scottish Information Commissioner,
who similarly regulates the Freedom of Information Act (Scotland) 2002

Information Tribunal - deals with appeals against decisions by the Information Commissioners.

Freedom of Information pages - Department for Constitutional Affairs

Friends of the Earth FOIA Request Generator and links to contact details for Central Government Departments and their Publication Schemes

UK Government Information Asset Register - in theory, this should point you to the correct Government documents, but in practice...well see for yourself.

Access all Information is also logging some FOIA requests

foi.mysociety.org - prototype FOIA request submission, tracking and publication website

Blog Links

Spy Blog

UK Freedom of Information Act Blog - started by Steve Wood, now handed over to Katherine Gundersen

Your Right To Know - Heather Brooke

Informaticopia - Rod Ward

Open Secrets - a blog about freedom of information by BBC journalist Martin Rosenbaum

Panopticon blog - by Timothy Pitt-Payne and Anya Proops. Timothy Pitt-Payne is probably the leading legal expert on the UK's Freedom of Information Act law, often appearing on behlaf of the Information Commissioner's Office at the Information Tribunal.

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