Revealing the comments made on the GDC Facebook page

Roedd y cais yn rhannol lwyddiannus.

Dear General Dental Council,
The GDC publishes a Facebook page upon which the public are invited to post comments. None of these comments can then be viewed by any member of the public. Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 please publish all comments made on the GDC Facebook page.

Yours faithfully,

Paul Humber

Freedom of Information Requests, General Dental Council

Thank you for your message which has been received by the Freedom of
Information (FOI) e mail in box.

 

Your message is not being automatically forwarded but messages are picked
up each working day and forwarded to the relevant team for attention. We
may not acknowledge your query separately but in accordance with the
Freedom of Information Act you will receive a response to any FOI query
within 20 working days, the first day being the working day following our
receipt of your query. Any query under the Data Protection Act will be
answered within the 40 days allowed by that Act. In either case we will
respond as soon as possible.

 

Any query which may have been sent to this e mail address which does not
relate to FOI or Data Protection will also be forwarded to the relevant
team for response. We aim to respond to general queries within ten working
days.

 

Thank you for contacting the General Dental Council.

If you have received this email in error please read on:

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Moira Alderson (020 7167 6191), General Dental Council

Dear Mr Humber

 

Please find below a response to your FOI query.

 

1. The GDC publishes a Facebook page upon which the public are invited to
post comments. None of these comments can then be viewed by any member of
the public. Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 please publish all
comments made on the GDC Facebook page.

Comments posted on the GDC website are visible to the GDC and to the
“friends” of the person who has made the comment.

A great deal of consideration was given to how the account would be
administered when it was set-up. The account is only monitored by GDC
staff Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. In light of this it was decided that
comments would be limited to ensure that negative, personal or
inappropriate comments wouldn’t be left on the page overnight or during a
weekend.

I confirm that the GDC holds the information which you have requested.
However we are withholding that information since we consider that the
exemption under section 43 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 applies
to it. This is a qualified exemption and the GDC must therefore apply a
public interest test. I confirm that the GDC has considered whether or not
it would be in the public interest to disclose more detailed information
in relation to your request but considers that to do so would be likely to
prejudice the interests of both the GDC and of our other Facebook users.
We therefore consider that in all the circumstances of the case, the
public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest
in disclosing the information.

If you are unhappy with this response or the way the GDC has handled your
request for information you can request a review by writing to:

Chief Executive and Registrar
General Dental Council
37 Wimpole Street
London
W1G 8DQ

If you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request or complaint,
you have a right to appeal to the information Commissioner at:

The Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Kind regards, Moira.

Moira Alderson
Senior Communications Officer
General Dental Council

Phone: +44(0)20 7167 6191
Email: [1][email address]
Web: [2]www.gdc-uk.org

General protecting patients,
Dental regulating the dental team
Council

 

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References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. http://www.gdc-uk.org/
3. https://www.facebook.com/pages/General-D...
4. https://twitter.com/GDC_UK
5. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqLURTp...
6. http://pages.s4.exacttarget.com/page.asp...

Dear General Dental Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of General Dental Council's handling of my FOI request 'Revealing the comments made on the GDC Facebook page'.

Your response appears to be in breach of the Ministry of Justice guidelines 'Freedom of Information Guidance Exemptions guidance Section 43: Commercial interests.’

a) You have not cited, as is needed, whether you are claiming exemption under Section 43 (1) or Section 43 (2), or whether you would like to cite 43 (1) but would then want the case considered under 43 (2) should the Information Commissioner rule that 43 (1) is inadmissible. You imply you are citing Section 43 (2) but it is not clear.

Furthermore, while you have identified whose interests you feel may be prejudiced; you have failed to identify ‘the interests themselves and how disclosure might prejudice them.’
As a result I am left guessing what interests you are citing when denying a FOI request, and I am forced to base my FOI appeal upon my own suppositions of your motives, where you have withheld the necessary information from me. This is clearly not acceptable.

b) You appear to have conflated two concepts in a manner that favours your organisation. The two concepts are 1) the information that exists and that I seek, 2) where I may like it published. You appear to be assuming the latter, whereas I have not stipulated where or how I would like the information published; it would not necessarily have to be on Facebook itself.

So, for example, it is entirely reasonable that you may not want potentially abusive comments left visibly by the public on your Facebook page, much as you would not wish to have abusive graffiti left on your office building for all to see. The latter could harm your commercial interests in that it made your organisation look poor without any public interest being served. However you must still publish, when requested, the comments made on your Facebook page by the public, by some means or other. To not publish them is to deliberately prevent discussion about, and dissent of, a public body. This is a public body in which dentists and their staff are legally forced to be stakeholders. To hide criticism of this public body no matter how valid, to prevent discussion, to file away and not act on whistleblowing should it occur are all manifestly against the public interest. You have no defence to this. It is particularly questionable at a time when your organisation is under investigation for its response to whistleblowing and dissent about your activities.

c) You claim that you are somehow acting in the interests of ‘other Facebook users’. Again you have not clarified these interests even though you are required to do so, and I have to base my FOI appeal on guessing what these ‘interests’ may be; but by definition Facebook users have agreed to the terms and conditions of Facebook, which explicitly states that if you leave a comment on a Facebook page it is an act of publishing and is not a confidential act. In other words if a Facebook user leaves a comment on a public Facebook page they accept that it may be read by people they do not know and have taken responsibility for the words they write.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/r...

Yours faithfully,

Paul Humber

Freedom of Information Requests, General Dental Council

Thank you for your message which has been received by the Freedom of
Information (FOI) e mail in box.

 

Your message is not being automatically forwarded but messages are picked
up each working day and forwarded to the relevant team for attention. We
may not acknowledge your query separately but in accordance with the
Freedom of Information Act you will receive a response to any FOI query
within 20 working days, the first day being the working day following our
receipt of your query. Any query under the Data Protection Act will be
answered within the 40 days allowed by that Act. In either case we will
respond as soon as possible.

 

Any query which may have been sent to this e mail address which does not
relate to FOI or Data Protection will also be forwarded to the relevant
team for response. We aim to respond to general queries within ten working
days.

 

Thank you for contacting the General Dental Council.

If you have received this email in error please read on:

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Freedom of Information Requests, General Dental Council

2 Atodiad

Dear Mr Humber,

 

Please find attached an acknowledgement to your request for an Internal
Review. Also attached is a note about our Internal Review process.

 

Your sincerely,

 

Sangeeta Patel

Information Assistant

Governance

 

General Dental Council

37 Wimpole St

London

W1G 8DQ

[1]www.gdc-uk.org

 

 

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Freedom of Information Requests, General Dental Council

1 Atodiad

Dear Mr Humber,

 

Please find attached a letter concerning the status of your Internal
review.

 

Yours sinceirly ,

 

Sangeeta Patel

Information Assistant

Governance

 

General Dental Council

37 Wimpole St

London

W1G 8DQ

[1]www.gdc-uk.org

 

 

 

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Freedom of Information Requests, General Dental Council

1 Atodiad

Dear Mr Humber,

 

Following my email on the 19 ^ September 2014. Please find attached a
response regarding your Internal review.

 

Yours sincerely ,

 

Sangeeta Patel

Information Assistant

Governance

 

General Dental Council

37 Wimpole St

London

W1G 8DQ

[1]www.gdc-uk.org

 

 

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir