Access to census data by "law enforcement" authorities

David Hansen made this Freedom of Information request to Scottish Government

This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

The request was successful.

Dear Sir or Madam,

According to http://www.scotlandscensus.gov.uk/en/faq... census information is "strictly confidential" and "Personal details are kept confidential for 100 years after each census, when they are then released."

http://www.statewatch.org/news/2009/apr/... claims to be a copy of an EU document about "simplifying the exchange of information and intelligence between law enforcement authorities of the Member States of the European Union". On pages 106 and 107 this states that "(some) census information" is on, "information/databases directly accessible by law enforcement authorities but managed by other authorities".

Your FAQ and the claimed EU document cannot both be truthful and I am enquiring about which one it is.

If it is your contention that the claimed EU document is incorrect please say so.

If it is your contention that the claimed EU document has been concocted by Statewatch or some person unknown please say so.

Assuming that the claimed EU document is truthful, please provide me with the name of every field of census data which is "directly accessible by law enforcement authorities". This should be for the 2001 census and the proposed 2011 census.

Please also provide me with details of how "law enforcement authorities" directly access the data. Do they download the data, or access it remotely? Is the information encrypted, if so how precisely? Note that security through obscurity is not a valid defence, if encryption has been done properly making the details public poses no risk.

In view of your assertions about not transferring census data overseas, in response to an earlier FOI enquiry by myself, please detail the plans you have to prevent the data being exchanged with all "law enforcement authorities of the Member States of the European Union".

Please note that "replies" which involve attachments in
proprietary file formats are not acceptable. A reply which is not in plain text format will be deemed to be a refusal to answer.

Yours faithfully,

David Hansen

Scottish Government

Dear Mr Hansen

I acknowledge receipt of your request which was received in our office
yesterday.

yours sincerely

G Drysdale

General Register Office for Scotland
Ladywell House
Ladywell Road
Edinburgh
EH12 7TF

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Scottish Government

Mr Hansen

Thank you for your request for information under the Freedom of
Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA). Your request comprised the
following:

'According to [1]http://www.scotlandscensus.gov.uk/en/faq... census
information is "strictly confidential" and "Personal details are kept
confidential for 100 years after each census, when they are then
released."

[2]http://www.statewatch.org/news/2009/apr/...
claims to be a copy of an EU document about "simplifying the exchange of
information and intelligence between law enforcement authorities of the
Member States of the European Union". On pages 106 and 107 this states
that "(some) census information" is on, "information/databases directly
accessible by law enforcement authorities but managed by other
authorities".'

Q1. 'Your FAQ and the claimed EU document cannot both be truthful and I am
enquiring about which one it is.' and Q2. 'If it is your contention that
the claimed EU document is incorrect please say so.'

Response: Thank you for alerting us to this issue, which we were
previously unaware of. GROS was not involved in preparing the UK content
for these guidelines but I can confirm that no personal census information
is accessible by any UK law enforcement agency.

The 'Guidelines on the implementation of Council Framework Decision
2006/960/JHA of 18 December 2006 on simplifying the exchange of
information and intelligence between law enforcement authorities of the
Member States of the European Union' have yet to be formally published by
the Council of the European Union. Colleagues in the Home Office, who
co-ordinated the UK content, have agreed to remove the text '(some) census
information' before the guidelines are formally published.

Therefore, GROS can confirm that the FAQ information provided on our
website is correct and that there is no contradiction with the above
guidelines.

Q3. 'If it is your contention that the claimed EU document has been
concocted by Statewatch or some person unknown please say so.'

Response: GROS has no knowledge of how the document on the Statewatch
website was prepared or published, but the answer provided above refers.

Q4. 'Assuming that the claimed EU document is truthful, please provide me
with the name of every field of census data which is "directly accessible
by law enforcement authorities". This should be for the 2001 census and
the proposed 2011 census.'

Response: The answer provided to your first 2 questions refers. No
personal census information has been or will be made accessible to any UK
law enforcement agencies.

Q5. 'Please also provide me with details of how "law enforcement
authorities" directly access the data. Do they download the data, or
access it remotely? Is the information encrypted, if so how precisely?
Note that security through obscurity is not a valid defence, if encryption
has been done properly making the details public poses no risk.'

Response: The answer provided to your first 2 questions refers. No
personal census information has been or will be made accessible to any UK
law enforcement agencies. What are 'directly accessible' are aggregated
census statistics which do not contain personal census information. These
are available online at ([3]http://www.scrol.gov.uk/scrol/common/hom...)
and on request in CD and DVD formats.

Q6. 'In view of your assertions about not transferring census data
overseas, in response to an earlier FOI enquiry by myself, please detail
the plans you have to prevent the data being exchanged with all "law
enforcement authorities of the Member States of the European Union".'

Response: The answer provided to your first 2 questions refers. No
personal census information has been or will be made accessible to any UK
law enforcement agencies, therefore it cannot be exchanged with all "law
enforcement authorities of the Member States of the European Union".

If you are unhappy with this response to your request, you may ask us to
carry out an internal review, by writing to:

Mr Eddie Turnbull
Head of Corporate Services
General Register Office for Scotland
Ladywell House
Ladywell Road
Edinburgh
EH12 7TF

Your request should explain why you wish a review to be carried out, and
should be made within 40 working days of receipt of this letter, and we
will reply within 20 working days of receipt. If you are not satisfied
with the result of the review, you then have the right to make a formal
complaint to the Scottish Information Commissioner.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Scrimgeour
Census Director

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References

Visible links
1. http://www.scotlandscensus.gov.uk/en/faq/
2. http://www.statewatch.org/news/2009/apr/...
3. http://www.scrol.gov.uk/scrol/common/hom...