UK ICO Backs Privacy for Most Requester Names

8 July 2014

The United Kingdom’s Information Commissioner’s Office recently said the names of FOI requesters should be kept private, but not always.

The comment concerned the three-year practice of the Staffordshire County Council to publish requesters’ letters unredacted.

For more read a blog post by Mathew Burgess and another by Jon Baines.

The ICO is quoted as saying: 

Individuals who make freedom of information requests must have their details handled fairly. Many people who have made a request would not expect to have their name linked to published details of the request they have made. If a public authority is considering releasing this information then they must consider why publishing the requester’s name is necessary.

“While there is a need for authorities to be transparent about the freedom of information process, in most cases this would not extend to revealing names. We would be concerned if authorities were releasing people’s names simply to deter requesters. However, there may be some cases where the person making the request is doing so in a public capacity, for example if they’re a local MP, or in a professional capacity, for example if they’re a journalist, and so publication of their name may well be fair.

“At the very least people should be told that their details will be published and given the opportunity to explain to the council why their name should not be disclosed. If having raised it with the authority a person is not happy with the way their details have been handled then we may be able to help.”

 

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