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Meeting with the BBFC regarding the Digital Economy Act.

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Dear Department for Culture, Media and Sport,

Please pass this request to the relevant staff member at the DCMS who conducts Freedom of Information act requests if not already done so.

The minutes made available by the British Board Of Film Classification indicate that that at their Board of Classification meeting on the 16th November 2017 (http://www.bbfc.co.uk/sites/default/file... they were joined by two representatives from the DCMS, a Ms Sarah Connelly and a Mr Robert Henderson.

I would like to request any information relating to this meeting held by the DCMS or their staff. This should include but not be limited to any emails relating to this meeting held by Ms Connelly and Mr Henderson and their co-workers between the BBFC, each other, other members of the DCMS related to the meeting, any paperwork or other written material produced or recieved for use in the meeting or as briefing or preparation prior to the meeting, any written notes taken during the meeting including handwritten notes, any documentation given to the DCMS representatives during the meeting by the BBFC and any subsequent correspondence between Mr Henderson and Ms Connelly with the BBFC or other staff members of the DCMS, the government or third parties about the meeting.

There is no realistic reason for this request to approach the FOI cost limit, but in the event that there is any concern that it will please restrict the search to the months of October, November and December 2017.

There is a signifiant public interest in the release of this information - the implementation of the Digital Economy Act has potentially significant impacts for freedom of expression, and for the economic prospects of the UK in damaging digital businesses. There has been substantive public concern about the implementation of Age Verification, including articles in most major newspapers and news outlets on the policy, but there is very little public information close to the implementation deadline. There is also no reason why the requested information is likely to be considered fomulating public policy, as the Digital Economy Act has already entered into law (and had at the time of the production of the information requested).

Many thanks for your swift attention.

Yours faithfully,

A Livingston

FOI Mailbox, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Thank you for your email which is now being dealt with by the Freedom of
Information Team at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 
You will receive a response to your information request within 20 working
days of receipt.
  

no-reply@dcms.ecase.co.uk on behalf of FOI Team, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

1 Attachment

Dear A. Livingstone,

Thank you for your email of 10 January, in which you made the following
request for information:

The minutes made available by the British Board Of Film Classification
indicate that that at their Board of Classification meeting on the 16th
November 2017
(http://www.bbfc.co.uk/sites/default/file...
they were joined by two representatives from the DCMS, a Ms Sarah Connelly
and a Mr Robert Henderson.

I would like to request any information relating to this meeting held by
the DCMS or their staff. This should include but not be limited to any
emails relating to this meeting held by Ms Connelly and Mr Henderson and
their co-workers between the BBFC, each other, other members of the DCMS
related to the meeting, any paperwork or other written material produced
or recieved for use in the meeting or as briefing or preparation prior to
the meeting, any written notes taken during the meeting including
handwritten notes, any documentation given to the DCMS representatives
during the meeting by the BBFC and any subsequent correspondence between
Mr Henderson and Ms Connelly with the BBFC or other staff members of the
DCMS, the government or third parties about the meeting.

There is no realistic reason for this request to approach the FOI cost
limit, but in the event that there is any concern that it will please
restrict the search to the months of October, November and December 2017.

We have dealt with your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
(the Act). Please find attached the information we hold relevant to your
request. Please note that we have determined that some of this information
is exempt from disclosure under section 35.1(a) (formulation of government
policy) of the Act. Section 35 is a 'qualified exemption' and requires us
to carry out a public interest test to consider whether the balance of
interest lies in releasing or withholding the information. In considering
this, we have paid particular regard to the arguments in favour of
disclosure, including that disclosure may be of benefit because:

* greater transparency makes government more accountable to the
electorate and increases trust;
* the desirability of citizens being confident that decisions are taken
on the basis of the best available information;
* knowledge that the arguments relating to a debate will be released
will in fact improve the quality of those arguments. Far from
inhibiting the frank provision of advice, there might be circumstances
where the prospect of disclosure would enhance the quality of advice.

However, while acknowledging these benefits we consider that on this
occasion the arguments for upholding the exemption and withholding the
information outweigh those in favour of disclosure. In particular,
consideration of the following factors has led us to the conclusion that
the public interest requires the exemption in section 35 to be upheld
because:

* Ministers and their officials need space in which to develop their
thinking and explore different options in communications and
discussions. We are continuing to use the information at issue here to
inform the development of our ongoing policy;
* Ministers and their officials need to be able to think through all the
implications of different options. In particular, they need to be able
to undertake rigorous and candid assessments of the risks to
particular programmes and projects;
* good government depends on good decision making and this needs to be
based on the best advice available and a full consideration of all the
options - there may be a deterrent effect on external experts or
stakeholders who might be reluctant to provide advice because it might
be disclosed;

Please also not that some information has been withheld under Section
40(2). Section 40(2) exempts personal information from disclosure if that
information relates to someone other than the applicant, and if disclosure
of the information would, amongst other things, contravene one of the data
protection principles in schedule 1 of the Data Protection Act. In this
case, I believe disclosure would contravene the first data protection
principle, which provides that personal data must be processed fairly and
lawfully. Section 40(2) is an absolute exemption and the department is not
obliged to consider whether the public interest favours disclosing the
information.

Yours sincerely,

Freedom of Information Team

Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport

4th floor, 100 Parliament Street

London SW1A 2BQ

www.gov.uk/dcms

Complaints and comments

As is customary in our replies, I would like to explain that if you are
dissatisfied with any aspect of our response to your request for
information and/or wish to appeal against information being withheld from
you please send full details within two calendar months of the date of
this email to: [DCMS request email] You have the right to ask the
Information Commissioner (ICO) to investigate any aspect of your
complaint. Please note that the ICO is likely to expect internal
complaints procedures to have been exhausted before beginning an
investigation.

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