August 2007 Archives

Incredibly, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office have refused to disclose:

" the names and job titles of :

a) the Russian Federation Embassy or Consular staff in London or
elsewhere in the United Kingdom,

and

b) the United Kingdom Embassy or Consular staff in Moscow or
elsewhere in the Russian Federation,

who have been, or who are shortly being expelled, following the
diplomatic incident over the failure to extradite or prosecute the
suspect Andrei Lugovoi in the radioactive Polonium 210 murder case
of British citizen Alexander Litvinenko."

How, exactly are just the Names and the Job Tiles of British and Russian Diplomats to be considered as Personal Data ?

Every Embassy in London and in Moscow and therefore every important foreign Government, already knows these Names and (former) Job Titles, and so do lots of foreign journalists.

Why can't the FCO publish them themselves ?

I can confirm that the FCO does hold this information. However, we are withholding all the information you have requested under Section 40 (Personal Information) as the information is personal data relating to third parties, the disclosure of which would contravene one of the data protection principles. In such circumstances sections 40(2) and (3) of the Freedom of Information Act apply. In this case, our view is that disclosure would breach the first data protection principle. This states that personal data should be processed fairly and lawfully. It is the fairness aspect of this principle which, in our view, would be breached by disclosure. In such circumstances s.40 confers an absolute exemption on disclosure. There is, therefore, no public interest test to apply.

We have finally received a disclosure from the House of Commons authorities, regarding our Freedom of Information Act request about the the formerly public areas within the the Palace of Westminster and Portcullis House, which are now within the boundary of a Protected Site under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 Section 128 Offence of trespassing on designated site, as amended by the Terrorism Act 2006 section 12.Trespassing etc. on nuclear sites, as specified in the Statutory Instrument 2007 No. 930 The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (Designated Sites under Section 128) Order 2007. specifically the map published in Schedule 8:

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The paper hardcopy photopies reveal little of interest, except that it seems that the boundary around the main Palace of Westminster was originally going to extend some way into the River Thames, presumably along the as yet non-existent "security" boom or row of marker buoys.

How, exactly any Notices would have been fixed or how this law applies to the tidal River Thames is a mystery which is, at this point rather moot.

The memos and emails confirm that the Home Office was desperate to ensure that there was adequate signage so as to prevent the statutory defence of ignorance of the boundary from being invoked.

There are a couple of FOIA Section 24 National Security exemption redactions, which one could perhaps argue about, since Section 128 of SOCPA has nothing to do with real security, and everything to do with the suppression of political dissent, and of minor non-violent, non-threatening publicity stunts.

What is really infuriating, however, is the policy of censorship or redaction of the Names, Job Titles, Email Addresses , Postal Addresses and DirectTelephone Numbers of some of the officials in these memos and emails, on what seems to be spurious grounds

In each case, the full text of the memos and emails was disclosed (apart from some small Section 24 National Security redactions) but, for the most part, the people who were making the decisions and giving advice remain as faceless, nameless, contactless bureaucrats.

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

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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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Recent Comments

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  • wtwu: Anonymous briefings to the mainstream press that the truncated Gibson read more
  • wtwu: Rendition report still unpublished nine months after completion Although government read more
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  • wtwu: Apart from an automatic email dispaly receipt from public.enquiries@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk Spy read more
  • wtwu: This Decision Notice is now available as a(.pdf) from the read more
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