Dear Sirs

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000
REQUEST FOR INFORMATION

I refer to your response to IRQ0568593, for which I take this opportunity to thank you, and now write to request further information from the Information Commissioner's Office in respect of PECR complaints.

For those complaints disclosed in the first part of the request (i.e. the complaints received by the Commissioner in respect of various political parties in the UK) could you please now provide the following information:

(a) the full content of the complaint received by the Commissioner.

(b) the full content of any correspondence sent by the Commissioner to the political parties concerned together with the responses received thereto.

I look forward to receiving your reply.

Yours faithfully,
Alistair P Sloan

Alistair P Sloan left an annotation ()

This request follows up the response received from the ICO in relation to a request that can be found at https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

AccessICOinformation, Information Commissioner’s Office

Thank you for contacting the Information Commissioner’s Office. We confirm
that we have received your correspondence.

 

If you have made a request for information held by the ICO we will contact
you as soon as possible if we need any further information to enable us to
answer your request. If we don't need any further information we will
respond to you within our published, and statutory, service levels. For
more information please visit [1]http://ico.org.uk/about_us/how_we_comply

 

If you have raised a new information rights concern - we aim to send you
an initial response and case reference number within 30 days.

 

If you are concerned about the way an organisation is handling your
personal information, we will not usually look into it unless you have
raised it with the organisation first. For more information please see our
webpage ‘raising a concern with an organisation’ (go to our homepage and
follow the link ‘for the public’). You can also call the number below.

 

If you have requested advice - we aim to respond within 14 days.

 

If your correspondence relates to an existing case - we will add it to
your case and consider it on allocation to a case officer.

 

Copied correspondence - we do not respond to correspondence that has been
copied to us.

 

For more information about our services, please see our webpage ‘Service
standards and what to expect' (go to our homepage and follow the links for
‘Report a concern’ and ‘Service standards and what to expect'). You can
also call the number below.

 

If there is anything you would like to discuss with us, please call our
helpline on 0303 123 1113.

 

Yours sincerely

 

The Information Commissioner’s Office

 

Our newsletter

Details of how to sign up for our monthly e-newsletter can be found at
[2]http://www.ico.org.uk/tools_and_resource...

 

Twitter

Find us on Twitter at [3]http://www.twitter.com/ICOnews

 

show quoted sections

Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 Fax: 01625 524 510 Web: www.ico.org.uk

References

Visible links
1. http://ico.org.uk/about_us/how_we_comply
2. http://www.ico.org.uk/tools_and_resource...
3. http://www.twitter.com/ICOnews

Information Commissioner’s Office

11th March 2015

 

Case Reference Number IRQ0570965

 

Dear Mr Sloan

Further to your correspondence of 11 February 2015 we are now in a
position to provide you with our response.
 
Your request read:
 
“FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000
REQUEST FOR INFORMATION
 
I refer to your response to IRQ0568593, for which I take this opportunity
to thank you, and now write to request further information from the
Information Commissioner's Office in respect of PECR complaints.
 
For those complaints disclosed in the first part of the request (i.e. the
complaints received by the Commissioner in respect of various political
parties in the UK) could you please now provide the following information:
 
(a) the full content of the complaint received by the Commissioner.
 
(b) the full content of any correspondence sent by the Commissioner to the
political parties concerned together with the responses received thereto”
 
Response to request
 
In response to the first part of your request“ the full content of the
complaint received by the Commissioner”, we consider that the full content
of the complaints received from complainants  is personal data to them and
as such exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act  in
line with section 40 (2) by virtue of section 40 (3) (a) (i) which is the
exemption concerning personal information.
 
We consider that the disclosure of this personal data contravenes the
first data protection principle which requires personal data to be
processed fairly and lawfully. It is unlikely that it would be within the
expectations of these individuals that their personal details would be put
into the public domain as they would have provided the information for the
use by the ICO only for the purpose of investigating their complaints.
 
 
In relation to part 2 of your request“ the full content of any
correspondence sent by the Commissioner to the political parties concerned
together with the responses received thereto”,we consider that the
correspondence between the Information Commissioner's Office and the
political parties is exempt from disclosure under section 31 of the FOIA
which is the exemption concerning” Law Enforcement”. However, this
exemption is qualified and we are currently carrying out the public
interest test and as such extending the time of response on this part of
your request. We will provide you with our response as soon as possible.
 

Yours sincerely

Iman Elmehdawy
Lead Information Access Officer

show quoted sections

Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 Fax: 01625 524 510 Web: www.ico.org.uk

Jonathan Baines left an annotation ()

"we consider that the full content of the complaints received from complainants is personal data to them and as such exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act in line with section 40 (2) by virtue of section 40 (3) (a) (i) which is the exemption concerning personal information"

I would suggest that it is highly unlikely that the all of the full content is personal data, and, to the extent that it is, redactions could be made to enable disclosure in an anonymised form.

Alistair P Sloan

Dear Sirs,

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000
REQUEST FOR INFORMATION
REFERENCE: IRQ0570965

I refer to the above and to previous correspondence on the matter, I note that the ICO are still conducting the balancing of the public interest in respect of information falling in scope of part of the request. I should be grateful for an update as to the progress in this regard and for an estimation as to when the ICO expects to be in a position to provide a substantive response.

Yours faithfully,

Alistair P Sloan

casework, Information Commissioner’s Office

Thank you for contacting the Information Commissioner’s Office. We confirm
that we have received your correspondence.

 

If you have raised a new information rights concern - we aim to send you
an initial response and case reference number within 30 days.

 

Please note that if you are concerned about the way an organisation is
handling your personal information, we will not usually look into it
unless you have raised it with the organisation first. For more
information please see our webpage ‘[1]raising a concern with an
organisation’ (go to our homepage and follow the link ‘for the public’).
You can also call the number below.

 

If you want an internet search provider to remove a link to information
about you – it will be a little longer before we can respond. We are
currently considering the implications of the recent decision by the Court
of Justice of the European Union and will contact you again in the next
six weeks.

 

Please note that we will not look at requests to remove internet search
results unless you have first asked the search provider. You should also
send us copies of all related correspondence.

 

If you have requested advice - we aim to respond within 14 days.

 

If you have made a request for information held by the ICO - we will
contact you as soon as possible if we need any more information to answer
your request. If we don't need any more information we will respond to you
within our published, and statutory, service levels. For more information
please see our webpage [2]'access information about the ICO' (go to our
homepage and follow the link for ‘about the ICO’).

 

If your correspondence relates to an existing case - we will add it to
your case and consider it on allocation to a case officer.

 

Copied correspondence - we do not respond to correspondence that has been
copied to us.

 

For more information about our services, please see our webpage
‘[3]service standards and what to expect’ (go to our homepage and follow
the links for ‘Report a concern’ and ‘Service standards and what to
expect'). You can also call the number below.

 

If you have a matter you would like to discuss with us, please call our
helpline on 0303 123 1113 (local rate).

 

Yours faithfully

 

The Information Commissioner’s Office

 

Our newsletter

Details of how to sign up for our monthly e-newsletter can be found at
[4]http://www.ico.org.uk/tools_and_resource...

 

Twitter

Find us on Twitter at [5]http://www.twitter.com/ICOnews

show quoted sections

Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 Fax: 01625 524 510 Web: www.ico.org.uk

References

Visible links
1. http://ico.org.uk/for_the_public/raising...
2. http://ico.org.uk/about_us/how_we_comply
3. http://ico.org.uk/about_us/how_we_work/s...
4. http://www.ico.org.uk/tools_and_resource...
5. http://www.twitter.com/ICOnews

Information Commissioner’s Office

16th April 2015

 

Case Reference Number IRQ0570965

 

Dear Mr Sloan

Further to our email of 11 March 2015 we are writing to update you on the
progress of your request.

Please accept our sincere apologies for the time is it taking us to
conclude our consideration of your request. We aim to respond to you by 30
April 2015.

Thank you for your continued patience and please accept our apologies
again for any inconvenience caused. 
 

Yours sincerely

Iman Elmehdawy
Lead Information Access Officer

show quoted sections

Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 Fax: 01625 524 510 Web: www.ico.org.uk

Alistair P Sloan left an annotation ()

I have now submitted an application to the ICO for a decision from the Commissioner as to whether the ICO has complied with section 10 in respect of this request.

Information Commissioner’s Office

1 May 2015

Case Reference IRQ0570965

Dear Mr Sloan
 
I am writing further to our email of 16 April.
 
You asked us for:
 
“For those complaints disclosed in the first part of the request (i.e. the
complaints received by the Commissioner in respect of various political
parties in the UK) could you please now provide the following information:

(a) the full content of the complaint received by the Commissioner.

(b) the full content of any correspondence sent by the Commissioner to the
political parties concerned together with the responses received thereto.”
 
As we explained in our response to your last request we have received a
number of concerns about political parties and their compliance with the
PECR.
 
We generally receive these concerns in two ways. Individuals can choose to
complete our online reporting tool or complete a form and submit it via
our website. We collate this information and use this intelligence to
focus our resources and inform our decisions about enforcement action. As
part of this process, we don’t necessarily contact the individual or the
organisation about each individual concern.
 
We have considered the information we hold about the complaints we have
received, this is entries in the online reporting tool and the
correspondence on individual cases.
 
As we have previously explained, we think the complaints are, at least in
part, exempt under section 40 (2) FOIA. We do not think there is any
expectation from individuals that when they make a complaint to us, we
will further disclose the fact of that into the public domain.
 
We accept that at least in some cases, we could anonymise the complaints
and provide the detail without the name or other identifying details of
the complainant.
 
However, we think that disclosure of the rest of the correspondence from
the complainant, the correspondence we received from the political parties
on individual complaints and where either of these is reflected in our own
correspondence is exempt under section 31 (1) (g) FOIA. Please see our
disclosures attached.
 
 
Section 31 (1) (g) Law Enforcement
 
Section 31(1)(g) provides that:

Information which is not exempt information by virtue of section 30 is
exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be
likely to, prejudice-
(g)  the exercise by any public authority of its functions for any of the
purposes specified in subsection (2)

Section 31(2)(a) and (c) provides that:
The purposes referred to in subsection (1)(g) to (i) are-
(a) the purpose of ascertaining whether any person has failed to comply
with the law,
(c) the purpose of ascertaining whether circumstances which would justify
regulatory action in pursuance of any enactment exist or may arise,

The ICO exercises a number of functions for the purpose of ascertaining
whether a public authority/data controller has failed to comply with the
law and/or for the purpose of ascertaining whether circumstances exist or
may arise which would justify regulatory action in relation to relevant
legislation.

A considerable proportion of the ICO’s regulatory work is concerned with
ascertaining whether public authorities/data controllers have complied
with their legal obligations.

Clearly the information you have requested is information which the ICO
needs to consider in determining whether a data controller has breached
the law. It follows therefore that the purposes referred to in subsection
(a) and (c) above apply in relation to this information. Disclosure of
this information in relation to the ICO’s regulatory work would be likely
to prejudice the ICO’s regulatory functions. We also think that disclosure
would have the effect of inhibiting open dialogue between the ICO and the
organisations it regulates. 

In order to carry out a cost effective, timely and efficient regulatory
function the ICO must maintain the trust and confidence of the public
authorities/data controllers it regulates to ensure their co-operation.
The best way to achieve this is by informal, open, voluntary and
uninhibited exchange of information with these public authorities/data
controllers.
 
This informal exchange of information and co-operation by public
authorities/data controllers would be likely to be adversely affected if
all details of how a concern was handled were routinely made public. The
consequence of this would be that the ICO would be unable to provide an
appropriate level of service and its regulatory functions would be
prejudiced. It is our view that disclosure of the withheld information
would be likely to prejudice the ability of the ICO to carry out its
regulatory functions of monitoring the performance of public authorities
to ensure compliance with the relevant law. It would be likely to
prejudice the exchange of information between the ICO and public
authorities/data controllers which would become more guarded and cautious
in proactively providing information if they though it would be disclosed.
This would in turn be likely to prejudice the effectiveness of the ICO’s
regulatory processes.

For the reasons set out above we have concluded that section 31(1)(g) is
engaged, in that disclosure of the requested information would be likely
to prejudice the ICO’s regulatory functions. I have therefore gone on to
consider whether the public interest arguments lie in favour of disclosure
or in favour of maintaining the exemption.

Public interest in favour of disclosure.

There is a clear public interest in the ICO being open and transparent in
the way it handles complaints about the performance of data controllers in
relation to their duties and responsibilities under the relevant law. Such
openness and transparency helps to promote public awareness and
understanding of the ICO regulatory functions.

Further information about the way the ICO handles complaints about
specific data controllers would be of interest to those members of the
public who have a particular interest in those data controllers.
 
This might be because they already have been personally affected by the
decision or actions of a particular data controller or because the
particular organisation has already attracted media attention as a result
of its failings.

There is also a public interest in the ICO publishing information which
would help to demonstrate that it is complying with its duties by
overseeing the performance of data controllers with reference to the
relevant legislation and an interest in the public knowing how individual
organisations deal with the contact from the Commissioner. The publication
of this information would be evidence that the ICO is providing an
appropriate standard and quality of public service and would demonstrate
accountability and demonstrate the way in which data controllers respond
to enquiries.

Disclosure of the information could provide fuller evidence as to whether
the ICO was exercising its regulatory functions efficiently and
effectively.

Public interest in favour of maintaining the exemption.

There is a public interest in the ICO complying with the law. For example,
there is expectation that it will comply with section 59(1)(a) of the Data
Protection Act 1998 (DPA) by ensuring that the details it receives about
data controllers in the course of its investigations remain confidential.
Section 59(1)(a) states, subject to certain conditions applying:

‘No person who is or has been the Commissioner, a member of the
Commissioner’s staff or an agent of the Commissioner shall disclose any
information which – (a) has been obtained by, or furnished to, the
Commissioner under the purposes of the information Acts’.

In the light of section 59(1)(a) of the DPA there is generally an
expectation on the part of public authorities/data controllers that the
information they disclose to the ICO will not normally be disclosed. If
the ICO were to routinely disclose all such information in every case this
would inevitably hinder the flow of information in the future. This in
turn would prejudice the effectiveness and efficiency of the ICO’s
regulatory functions.
 
Although section 59 is not technically applicable to information held
about PECR because it is not one of the ‘information Acts’. However, the
overriding principle of organisations or individuals being able to
communicate in confidence with the Commissioner still applies and our
duties to regulate the law effectively do not diminish.

There is a public interest in the ICO providing a cost effective, timely
and efficient regulatory function of public authorities and data
controllers through co-operation and open dialogue to ensure compliance
with the relevant legislation. To do this the ICO must maintain the trust
and confidence of the organisations it regulates and ensure their
co-operation is maintained. This is best achieved by an informal, open,
voluntary and uninhibited exchange of information with organisations. We
think that co-operation may be adversely affected if details of their
failings were to be made public. This would in turn prejudice the ICO’s
ability to deliver the levels of service required of it. For example, if
the ICO could no longer rely on the informal co-operation of authorities
it might be forced to resort to regulatory intervention such as the use of
Information Notices more often. Use of such measures would divert staff
resource, and may have a cost implication for the ICO. This would have a
detrimental impact upon the level of service the ICO is able to provide to
the public it serves. In addition, we think that recourse to these powers
would, as an alternative to informal discussions, make the process of
engagement with public authorities more drawn out and less effective by
reducing open dialogue.

There is a public interest in having an effective and efficient regulator
of public authorities/data controllers to ensure compliance with the
relevant law. We think that public interest in understanding effective
action is taken by the ICO is in part met by the statistics and summary
information we already publish about our casework.
  
Having considered the public interest arguments both for and against
disclosure we do not think that there is sufficient weight within the
arguments to favour disclosure. Maintaining an informal process for the
gathering of information, is essential to maintaining the ICO’s role as an
effective and efficient regulator of the legislation. To disclose the
withheld information would erode this facility which would place undue
strain on available resources and undermine the ability of the ICO to
monitor activity and influence behaviour.

In light of the above we think that the public interest in maintaining the
exemption in section 31(1(g) outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

This concludes our response.

Yours sincerely

Iman Elmehdawy
Lead Information Access Officer

Review Procedure
 
We hope this provides you with the information you require.  However, if
you are dissatisfied with this response and wish to request a review of
our decision or make a complaint about how your request has been handled
you should write to the Information Access Team at the address below or
email [1][ICO request email].
 
Your request for internal review should be submitted to us within 40
working days of receipt by you of this response.  Any such request
received after this time will only be considered at the discretion of the
Commissioner.
 
If having exhausted the review process you are not content that your
request or review has been dealt with correctly, you have a further right
of appeal to this office in our capacity as the statutory complaint
handler under the legislation.  To make such an application, please write
to our Customer Contact Team at the address given or visit our website if
you wish to make a complaint under either the Freedom of Information Act
or Environmental Information Regulations.
  
A copy of our review procedure can be accessed from our website [2]here.

 

show quoted sections

Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 Fax: 01625 524 510 Web: www.ico.org.uk

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[ICO request email]
2. https://ico.org.uk/media/about-the-ico/p...

Alistair P Sloan

Dear Mr Elmehdawy,

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000
REQUEST FOR INFORMATION
REFERENCE: IRQ0570965

I refer to the above noted request for information and your response thereto dated 1 May 2015. In your response you refer to attached disclosures; however, there was nothing attached thereto. I should be grateful if you would supply the attachments.

Yours faithfully,

Alistair P Sloan

casework, Information Commissioner’s Office

Thank you for contacting the Information Commissioner’s Office. We confirm
that we have received your correspondence.

 

If you have raised a new information rights concern - we aim to send you
an initial response and case reference number within 30 days.

 

Please note that if you are concerned about the way an organisation is
handling your personal information, we will not usually look into it
unless you have raised it with the organisation first. For more
information please see our webpage ‘[1]raising a concern with an
organisation’ (go to our homepage and follow the link ‘for the public’).
You can also call the number below.

 

If you want an internet search provider to remove a link to information
about you – it will be a little longer before we can respond. We are
currently considering the implications of the recent decision by the Court
of Justice of the European Union and will contact you again in the next
six weeks.

 

Please note that we will not look at requests to remove internet search
results unless you have first asked the search provider. You should also
send us copies of all related correspondence.

 

If you have requested advice - we aim to respond within 14 days.

 

If you have made a request for information held by the ICO - we will
contact you as soon as possible if we need any more information to answer
your request. If we don't need any more information we will respond to you
within our published, and statutory, service levels. For more information
please see our webpage [2]'access information about the ICO' (go to our
homepage and follow the link for ‘about the ICO’).

 

If your correspondence relates to an existing case - we will add it to
your case and consider it on allocation to a case officer.

 

Copied correspondence - we do not respond to correspondence that has been
copied to us.

 

For more information about our services, please see our webpage
‘[3]service standards and what to expect’ (go to our homepage and follow
the links for ‘Report a concern’ and ‘Service standards and what to
expect'). You can also call the number below.

 

If you have a matter you would like to discuss with us, please call our
helpline on 0303 123 1113 (local rate).

 

Yours faithfully

 

The Information Commissioner’s Office

 

Our newsletter

Details of how to sign up for our monthly e-newsletter can be found at
[4]http://www.ico.org.uk/tools_and_resource...

 

Twitter

Find us on Twitter at [5]http://www.twitter.com/ICOnews

show quoted sections

Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 Fax: 01625 524 510 Web: www.ico.org.uk

References

Visible links
1. http://ico.org.uk/for_the_public/raising...
2. http://ico.org.uk/about_us/how_we_comply
3. http://ico.org.uk/about_us/how_we_work/s...
4. http://www.ico.org.uk/tools_and_resource...
5. http://www.twitter.com/ICOnews

Information Commissioner’s Office

3 Attachments

7th May 2015

 

Case Reference Number IRQ0570965

 

Dear Mr Sloan

Thank you for your email. We do sincerely apologise for not sending the
attachments with our response of 1 May 2015, this was an unintentional
error.

Please find attached the three documents we are disclosing.

We apologise again for any inconvenience caused.

Yours sincerely

Iman Elmehdawy
Lead Information Access Officer

show quoted sections

Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 Fax: 01625 524 510 Web: www.ico.org.uk

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