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City of York Council interception & monitoring of emails without consent: numbers affected

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Dear City of York Council,

In July 2017 City of York Council began secretly to intercept, monitor and sometimes block my emails to ‘a small number of officer inboxes’. My consent was never sought, and I have, since being told of the interceptions this September, withheld consent. But the council say they do not need explicit consent for the interceptions.

Please provide the following information:

How many people apart from me are having their emails secretly intercepted and monitored?

Yours faithfully,

Colin Hall

foi@york.gov.uk, City of York Council

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Wilmslow
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SK9 5AF
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Regards
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Michael Hammill left an annotation ()

Dear Mr Hall

Do you know who is doing this interception and for what purpose?

Michael Hammill

Colin Hall left an annotation ()

Dear Mr Hammill
I was told that the interceptions and special processing are being carried out for purposes of efficiency through, in the words of the Deputy Chief Executive/S151 Officer, ‘a single point of contact, in effect this was an auto divert from a small number of Officer inboxes, agreed with Managers as an internal process. Your contact was managed by one council team, who had an overview of the comments being received by you and what had already been responded to.

‘The efficiency was that one team could identify where new issues which required a response were being raised. Rather than being considered by the individual members of staff and those copied into emails. The team could objectively identify where it was considered the issues related to matters where you had been advised no further response or acknowledgement would be sent.

‘In addition to this as your emails were often sent to the people they were raising concerns about, this was an efficient and effective way of fulfilling the council’s duty of care to its officers, so that they did not directly receive emails repeatedly raising concerns about them. It also meant any concerns which had not already been addressed could objectively and independently be forwarded for consideration through the appropriate procedure’.

I have analysed my relatively few communications with senior officers over several months preceding the start of the interceptions and can find no justification for these statements.

I asked the Deputy Chief Executive/S151 Officer why this had been done in secret. He replied that his response to my initial email ‘provides you with the details of the internal process put in place and why it was put in place’. But he avoids saying why it was done in secret.

On the question of the council’s failure to obtain my consent, the Deputy Chief Executive/S151 Officer says: ‘we do not need your explicit consent to manage your contacts in this way. The internal process put in place [ie interception, monitoring, blocking] does not have a new or different purpose, as we are still processing your personal data in order to respond to you which means there is no requirement to update the council’s privacy notice. I can also assure you again that there has been no breach of your personal data by the council managing your contacts using this internal process’.

If this is the council’s justification for intercepting emails without consent, other people may be in the same position as me. Hence the FOI request to get this into the public domain.

Thanks for taking an interest.

Colin Hall

foi@york.gov.uk, City of York Council

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Dear Mr Hall
 
Please see below our response to your request sent on 14^th October 2018
via the public website WhatDoTheyKnow.  The reference number for this
request is IGF/10754
 
The information you describe and specify in your request is:  
 
“How many people apart from me are having  their emails secretly
intercepted and monitored?”
 
Under FOI Act, we are required under section 1(1)(a) to confirm or deny if
this information is held.  I can confirm that this information is not held
by the council and the explanation for this,  is that we do not secretly
intercept or monitor emails.
 
However to be helpful, if your request was for how many people are subject
to a managed contact internal process, then we would not be able to
provide you with this information,  as the disclosure could lead to the
possible identification of individuals.   Information that identifies
individuals is classed as their personal data, which is exempt from
disclosure under Section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act (the
FOIA).   Although you have not asked for names, information is still
personal data,  even if it does not refer to individuals by name, if that
information identifies them or would lead to their identification when
used in conjunction with other available information.  
 
We can only disclose personal data in response to a FOI Act request, which
is a disclosure into the public realm and “to the world”, if it would be
fair, lawful and meet the relevant conditions for processing set out in
data protection legislation.
 
If you are dissatisfied with our response you have the right to ask for a
review of how your request was responded to.   This can be done by
contacting us through [1][City of York Council request email] stating your reason(s) why you
are dissatisfied. If after we complete our investigation and reply to you
with our findings, you still remain dissatisfied you can contact the
Information Commissioner, contact details below:
Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 (local rate) or 01625 545 745 if you prefer to use a
national rate number
Fax: 01625 524 510
Or email: [2][email address] (please include your telephone number)
        Yours sincerely
 
 
City of York Council  | Information Governance, Complaints and Feedback
Team
West Offices | Station Rise | York YO1 6GA
[3]www.york.gov.uk | [4]facebook.com/cityofyork | [5]@CityofYork
 
 
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