Blockchain technology for frictionless trade

Robert Davidson made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Exiting the European Union

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

The request was refused by Department for Exiting the European Union.

Dear Department for Exiting the European Union,

Please would you confirm whether or not your department holds any memos, briefing documents or reports either produced by the department or submitted to the department on the issue of the use of blockchain technology to facilitate 'frictionless borders' post-Brexit?

If such material exists then I request that you make it available under the Freedom of Information legislation.

Yours faithfully,

Robert Davidson

DEXEU Freedom of Information Team Mailbox, Department for Exiting the European Union

Dear Robert Davidson,
Thank you for your request, reference DEX001525. We will now respond in
line with either the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or the Environmental
Information Regulations 2004.
Kind regards, 
DExEU FOI/EIR Team

Freedom of Information Team

Correspondence Unit

DfEEU_CYAN_SML_AW.png line.png 9 Downing Street | London | SW1A 2AG

E: [1][DEEU request email]  

You can follow DExEU on Twitter: @DExEUgov

Freedom of Information Team

9 Downing Street | London | SW1A 2AG
[2]DfEEU_CYAN_SML_AW.png
E: [3][DEEU request email]  

You can follow DExEU on Twitter: @DExEUgov

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DEXEU Freedom of Information Team Mailbox, Department for Exiting the European Union

1 Attachment

Dear Robert Davidson,
Thank you for your FOI request, reference DEX001525. Please find our
attached extension.
Kind regards, 
DExEU FOI Team

Freedom of Information Team

9 Downing Street | London | SW1A 2AG
[1]DfEEU_CYAN_SML_AW.png
E: [2][DEEU request email]  

You can follow DExEU on Twitter: @DExEUgov

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Dear Department for Exiting the European Union,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Exiting the European Union's handling of my FOI request 'Blockchain technology for frictionless trade'.

The department has not provided a response within any reasonable time. The response is long overdue and I have no confidence the department will act in line with FOI legislation and guidelines.

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

Yours faithfully,

Robert Davidson

DEXEU Freedom of Information Team Mailbox, Department for Exiting the European Union

Dear Mr Davidson,
We write further to our letter of 5 December 2018 and in response to your
email of yesterday (10 January 2018).  We require further time to consider
whether the public interest is in favour of disclosure of the information
you have requested or withholding the information under section 35 of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 ('the Act').  Under section 10(3) of the
Act, a public authority, when considering the public interest, need not
comply with a request until such time as is reasonable in the
circumstances.
We note in our letter of 5 December that we stated that should we require
further time to consider the public interest, we would let you know. 
Please accept this email as notification that we require further time.  We
shall inform you as to the outcome of the public interest test in due
course.
Kind regards,

Freedom of Information Team

9 Downing Street | London | SW1A 2AG
[1]DfEEU_CYAN_SML_AW.png
E: [2][DEEU request email]  

You can follow DExEU on Twitter: @DExEUgov

show quoted sections

DEXEU Freedom of Information Team Mailbox, Department for Exiting the European Union

1 Attachment

Dear Robert Davidson,
Thank you for your FOI request, reference DEX001525. Please find our
attached response.
Kind regards, 
DExEU FOI Team

Freedom of Information Team

9 Downing Street | London | SW1A 2AG
[1]DfEEU_CYAN_SML_AW.png
E: [2][DEEU request email]  

You can follow DExEU on Twitter: @DExEUgov

show quoted sections

Dear Department for Exiting the European Union,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Exiting the European Union's handling of my FOI request 'Blockchain technology for frictionless trade'.

My primary complaint regards the time taken by your department to respond to my request. Four and a half months is extraordinary and completely unacceptable by all guidelines and conventions. Furthermore, I had to write to your department demanding updates because they failed to communicate when there was going to be a delay and how long a delay to expect. This is bad practice and needs rectified within your department.

My secondary complaint relates to the exemptions chosen by your department in refusing my request for information.

Section 27 was used to say that release of this information might "prejudice the UK's relationship with EU members states." Release of technical advice papers on something as scientific and technical as blockchain technology could sure not prejudice a foreign state against the UK. It is known that the UK has been seeking technical solutions for border control post-Brexit and it is known that Blockchain is one of those - as per the Chancellor's very public statements last October at Conservative Party Conference. Technical advice about opportunities and limitations would not detriment relationships. As a second part to Section 27, you state that there is public interest in not undermining the UK's negotiation position or adversely affecting the UK's interests - this seems like a repetition of Section 29 which I will deal with below.

Section 29 was used to say that release of the information might damage the UK's financial interests because it would weaken the UK's negotiating position. The problem here is that Section 29 is meant to exempt specific government investments or transactions, it is not meant to be a catch all exemption for any information that might make the government look bad or make the UK look weaker. If the exemption could be used as your department is using it, it would be possible for any negative information to be exempt because of the possible negative implications for government stability and public confidence in government. The FOI legislation would reduce to a 'good news' legislation that barred the government from releasing any failure or mishap. That is clearly not the case and the use of Section 29 here is clearly a stretch of that exemption's spirit and meaning.

Section 35 was used to say, effectively, that government cannot share information because they need secrecy to discuss policy freely. Policy development may cover incendiary areas of public interest and it is useful to have free discussion of political options that would only be revealed after the final political decision has been made public. Here, however, I am not requesting political policy options, I am requesting technical briefs and reports. For example, if I had requested early-stage political policy options on end of life care, this might be exempt but, if i had requested early release of technical briefs on technological options for end of life care, this would not be exempt because the technical information does not indicate government policy.
In this case, if I had asked for early stage policy documents on immigration control or perhaps even post-Brexit tariffs, then this might be exempt because they are political decisions that have yet to be finalised. The technical information regarding opportunities and limitations of blockchain technology should not be exempt because they are purely technical and do not indicate government political considerations.

Please would you consider my complaints and reconsider the decision regarding release of purely technical and technological briefing papers?

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

Yours faithfully,

Robert Davidson

foiappeals Mailbox, Department for Exiting the European Union

Dear Robert Davidson,
Thank you for your request for an Internal Review of your request
(reference DEX001525).  We shall now conduct an Internal Review and will
endeavour to contact you again with the outcome within 20 working days of
the date your request for a Review was received by us.
Kind regards,
Freedom of Information Team
FOI Appeals 
Department for Exiting the European Union
9 Downing Street | London | SW1A 2AG
E: [1][email address]

From: Robert Davidson <[2][FOI #530774 email]>
Date: Sat, 16 Mar 2019 at 15:02
Subject: Internal review of Freedom of Information request - Blockchain
technology for frictionless trade
To: FOI requests at DEEU <[3][DEEU request email]>

Dear Department for Exiting the European Union,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Exiting the
European Union's handling of my FOI request 'Blockchain technology for
frictionless trade'.

My primary complaint regards the time taken by your department to
respond to my request. Four and a half months is extraordinary and
completely unacceptable by all guidelines and conventions. Furthermore,
I had to write to your department demanding updates because they failed
to communicate when there was going to be a delay and how long a delay
to expect. This is bad practice and needs rectified within your
department.

My secondary complaint relates to the exemptions chosen by your
department in refusing my request for information.

Section 27 was used to say that release of this information might
"prejudice the UK's relationship with EU members states." Release of
technical advice papers on something as scientific and technical as
blockchain technology could sure not prejudice a foreign state against
the UK. It is known that the UK has been seeking technical solutions for
border control post-Brexit and it is known that Blockchain is one of
those - as per the Chancellor's very public statements last October at
Conservative Party Conference. Technical advice about opportunities and
limitations would not detriment relationships. As a second part to
Section 27, you state that there is public interest in not undermining
the UK's negotiation position or adversely affecting the UK's interests
- this seems like a repetition of Section 29 which I will deal with
below.

Section 29 was used to say that release of the information might damage
the UK's financial interests because it would weaken the UK's
negotiating position. The problem here is that Section 29 is meant to
exempt specific government investments or transactions, it is not meant
to be a catch all exemption for any information that might make the
government look bad or make the UK look weaker. If the exemption could
be used as your department is using it, it would be possible for any
negative information to be exempt because of the possible negative
implications for government stability and public confidence in
government. The FOI legislation would reduce to a 'good news'
legislation that barred the government from releasing any failure or
mishap. That is clearly not the case and the use of Section 29 here is
clearly a stretch of that exemption's spirit and meaning.

Section 35 was used to say, effectively, that government cannot share
information because they need secrecy to discuss policy freely. Policy
development may cover incendiary areas of public interest and it is
useful to have free discussion of political options that would only be
revealed after the final political decision has been made public. Here,
however, I am not requesting political policy options, I am requesting
technical briefs and reports. For example, if I had requested
early-stage political policy options on end of life care, this might be
exempt but, if i had requested early release of technical briefs on
technological options for end of life care, this would not be exempt
because the technical information does not indicate government policy.
In this case, if I had asked for early stage policy documents on
immigration control or perhaps even post-Brexit tariffs, then this might
be exempt because they are political decisions that have yet to be
finalised. The technical information regarding opportunities and
limitations of blockchain technology should not be exempt because they
are purely technical and do not indicate government political
considerations.

Please would you consider my complaints and reconsider the decision
regarding release of purely technical and technological briefing papers?

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

Yours faithfully,

Robert Davidson

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foiappeals Mailbox, Department for Exiting the European Union

1 Attachment

Dear Robert Davidson,
Further to your request for an Internal Review (reference DEX001525),
please find attached our response.
Freedom of Information Team
FOI Appeals 
Department for Exiting the European Union
9 Downing Street | London | SW1A 2AG
E: [1][email address]

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