Partially Redacted Postbox Location Data

The request was successful.

Dear Royal Mail Group Limited,

I would like to request the location data that you hold for post boxes in your Central Collections Management Database. In view of the recent request by John Gow for the same, I expect that this will be refused.

However, if this is the case, then I would like you to consider releasing a partially redacted version of the data he requested. Specifically, I would like the CMD data with the OSGB northings and eastings partially redacted by removing one or more of the right-most digits from each, so that the accuracy of each location is reduced to signifying a 100m by 100m square.

If this request is still rejected, then please consider the redaction of another figure from each coordinate to reduce the accuracy to a 1km by 1km square.

(I believe that the 6 figure nothings and eastings in the data you previously released denote a 1m by 1m square, so to redact them to a 100m square would mean removing the final two digits from each number, and to redact them to a 1km square would mean removing the final three digits from each number.)

The loss of accuracy in either of these redacted datasets will make them unsuitable for use in a post-box finding search tool or app, which should allay your fears about the release of the dataset being prejudicial your commercial interests.

Yours faithfully,

Robert Whittaker

FOI, Royal Mail Group Limited

Dear Mr Whittaker

 

Thank you for your request for information received on 14^th September
2013, which we are considering under the Freedom of Information Act. 
Under the Act you should expect a reply from us to be sent by 11^th
October 2013, which is twenty working days from receipt of your request. 

 

If for any reason we are unable to provide you with a full response within
20 working days, we will contact you explaining the reasons for this and
giving a revised date by which we will reply. 

 

If in the meantime you have any questions or would like to contact us
about your request, please contact us by email or telephone on 0114 241
4215. Please be assured that we are giving your request our attention and
will get back to you shortly.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Marie Teasdale

Information Rights Team

Company Secretary’s Office

 

 

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FOI, Royal Mail Group Limited

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Whittaker

 

Please find attached a response to your recent Freedom of Information
request.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Marie Teasdale

Information Rights Officer

 

Royal Mail is a trading name of Royal Mail Group Ltd. Registered in
England and Wales.

Registered number 4138203. Registered office at 100 Victoria Embankment,
LONDON, EC4Y 0HQ

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Dear Royal Mail Group Limited,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Royal Mail Group Limited's handling of my FOI request 'Partially Redacted Postbox Location Data'.

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

I wish you to reconsider your refusal of my requests both for the full location coordinates, and the partially redacted datasets.

In the case of the full coordinates, you have claimed the "Commercial Interests" exemption. While you claim the information has commercial value, this in itself is not sufficient to apply the exemption -- you need to demonstrate how releasing the data would be likely to result in actual harm. Your reply fails to do so. Can you, for instance provide any evidence of losses from the previous (accidental?) releases of the coordinate data? Can you demonstrate any efforts you took to prevent these releases from being used? What estimates have been obtained as to how much of the value that you claim exists in the coordinates could be realised, and what effect releasing them would have on your return?

With regard to your view that the other data requested would amount to "creation of new information", I have to disagree in the strongest possible terms.

With a paper analogy, all I am asking for is a copy of the coordinates with the final few digits blanked out, in the same way that you would redact any other sensitive information in an FOI release.

Electronically, you would either replace the characters corresponding to the final digits with a placeholder to 'blank them out', or just delete them. I cannot think of another way in which redaction to an electronic dataset like this could be achieved, yet clearly it needs to be possible to release redacted electronic datasets.

For example, if the data you hold is "123456", in what possible way could changing this to "1234XX" be considered creating new information. The useful information contained in the second string is simply "1234", which was already present in the original data. There is therefore nothing "new" about it.

(If actually carrying out these redactions would be technically difficult for you, I would be happy to assist. For example, a simple one-line Linux sed script would be able to automatically remove the final coordinate digits from a tab-separated-values file in a specified format, such as the ones you previously supplied to me.)

Yours faithfully,

Robert Whittaker

Dear Royal Mail Group Limited,

Further to my message yesterday requesting an internal review (see https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p... ), I think it might be helpful if you were to consider the following re-wording of my request for the partially redacted coordinates:

"For each postbox record in the central collections management database, please supply (a) both parts of the box number (e.g. "IP24 3249"), (b) the first four digits of the six-digit easting, and (c) the first four digits of the six-digit northing. (If any of the eastings or northings contain a different number of digits, the number of digits to be supplied should be adjusted accordingly, so all but the last two are supplied.) The information should be supplied in a machine-readable electronic form, preferably as a tab-separated values file."

It should now be completely clear that the information I am requesting is information that you already hold. It is simply a matter of you extracting the relevant information from your database, and in no way does my request require the creation of any new information.

Yours faithfully,

Robert Whittaker

FOI, Royal Mail Group Limited

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Whittaker

 

Please find attached a response to the internal review of your recent
request for information.

 

Yours Sincerely

 

Kate Fearn
Information Rights Team

Royal Mail Group

 

Royal Mail is a trading name of Royal Mail Group Ltd. Registered in
England and Wales.
Registered number 4138203. Registered office at 100 Victoria Embankment,
LONDON, EC4Y 0HQ

 

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