Minutes for Bitcoin

The request was partially successful.

Dear HM Revenue and Customs,

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 I seek the following information:

- Minutes for all meetings about Bitcoin (Bitcoin is an online digital crypto currency)

If the decision is made to withhold some of this data using exemptions in the Data Protection Act, please inform me of that fact and cite the exemptions used.

If you need any clarification then please do not hesitate to contact me. Under Section 16 it is your duty to provide advice and assistance and so I would expect you to contact me if you find this request unmanageable in any way.

I would be grateful if you could confirm in writing that you have received this request, and I look forward to hearing from you within the 20-working day statutory time period.

Yours faithfully,

Thomas Gullen

HM Revenue and Customs

Dear Mr Gullen,

Thank you for your communication of 21 August 2013 which has been passed
to HM Revenue and Customs Freedom of Information Act Team.

HMRC have allocated your request with reference FOI 2379/13 which you
should quote if you need to contact us.

The Team will arrange for a reply to be sent to you which will either
comply with HMRC's obligations under Freedom of Information Act or, if
we think it's an enquiry that we don't need to address under the terms
of the Act, let you know why. If it is the latter we will, if possible,
pass it on to a more appropriate part of the Department for answer.

HMRC
Freedom of Information Team

The information in this e-mail and any attachments is confidential and may be subject to legal professional privilege. Unless you are the intended recipient or his/her representative you are not authorised to, and must not, read, copy, distribute, use or retain this message or any part of it. If you are not the intended recipient, please notify the sender immediately.

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HM Revenue and Customs

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Gullen,

Please find attached HMRC's response to your information request.

Yours sincerely

Teresa Chance | FOI Policy Adviser | Rm 1C/23 100 Parliament Street |
London | SW1A 2BQ | Tel: 03000 586419

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Dear HM Revenue and Customs,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of HM Revenue and Customs's handling of my FOI request 'Minutes for Bitcoin'. A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/m...

Your FOI response stated:

"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 without fear of premature disclosure"

Please try to let me understand what HMRC are fearful of, and why fear is a cited reason for a denial of a reasonable FOI request. Please also help me understand why or how my FOI request can affect the decision making process. I would expect that decision makers in government would be professional enough to not succumb to any external pressures and make their decisions based on the best interests of the country.

You also stated:

"Advice should be broad based and there may be a deterrent effect on external experts or stakeholders who might be reluctant to provide advice because it might be disclosed"

Please provide evidence or examples of where FOI requests act as a detterent for external experts. This appears to me to be a short sighted point of view, on the contrary exposing the actual debate actually being conducted behind closed doors can act as a motivator for external experts to offer their advice and services and consequently improve the decision making process.

"section 35(1)(a)" was also cited as a reason for denial, specifically relating to the point:

"Information held by a government department is exempt information if it relates to (a)the formulation or development of government policy"

If it is deemed legal to deny the request on this basis, I would expect that the information relating to formulating government policy would be censored, and remaining information passed on.

It was also stated "HMRC holds some information within the scope of your request. Between the date of receipt of your request and this response, a meeting involving HMRC and focusing on the subject of virtual currencies was held."

The scope of my request was not limited to the date I made the request. Please confirm that this was understood. I expected materials that pre-dated my original request to be included in the scope of the request, but I find the quoted phrase ambiguous.

Bitcoin is a virtual currency growing fast, currently valued at around $1.5 billion USD. As a sucessful technology business owner with an express interest in exploring the possibilities and opportunities that Bitcoin presents I find the denial of this request extremely limiting and concerning.

Yours faithfully,

Thomas Gullen

HM Revenue and Customs

1 Attachment

Dear Mr. Gullen
I attach a response to your recent request for an internal review.

Yours sincerely

Margaret Earing
HMRC Freedom of Information Team
Central Policy
Information Policy & Disclosure
100 Parliament Street
Westminster
London SW1A 2BQ

03000 586655
Tuesday to Friday

The information in this e-mail and any attachments is confidential and may be subject to legal professional privilege. Unless you are the intended recipient or his/her representative you are not authorised to, and must not, read, copy, distribute, use or retain this message or any part of it. If you are not the intended recipient, please notify the sender immediately.

HM Revenue & Customs computer systems will be monitored and communications carried on them recorded, to secure the effective operation of the system and for lawful purposes.

The Commissioners for HM Revenue and Customs are not liable for any personal views of the sender.

This e-mail may have been intercepted and its information altered.

show quoted sections