Dear Sir or Madam,

During December 2008, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) added a Wikipedia article to the "Cleanfeed" censorship blacklist (subscribed to and used by the majority of Internet Service Providers in the United Kingdom).

The blacklisted article was one covering an album, "Virgin Killer", by a German band called "The Scorpions", released in 1976. The IWF stated that they took their decision to block "in conjunction with UK law enforcement", and stated that further actions would be taken "with our police partners". (BBC Radio 4, The Today Programme, 2008-12-08).

In subsequent action, on 9 December 2008, the IWF reversed their decision and removed Wikipedia from its blacklist; stating that this this was the first time that the IWF Appeals Process had been used.

This request concerns communication from the Police to the IWF between the time of blocking (believed to be 2008-12-05), and the time of unblocking (2008-12-09, 18:30 UTC).

Please confirm:
(a) whether the IWF subsequently consulted the Police/law enforcement before the unblocking/removal took place.
(b) if so, what advice/factual statements the Police/law enforcement provided to the IWF charity before the unblocking/removal took place.

Please let me know if you consider that this request is either too broadly, or too narrowly worded or could benefit from further clarification.

Yours faithfully,

Paul Sladen

Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Dear Mr Sladen

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2008120004015
I write in connection with your request for information which was received
by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on 13/12/2008. I note you seek
access to the following information:

* During December 2008, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) added a
Wikipedia article to the "Cleanfeed" censorship blacklist
(subscribed to and used by the majority of Internet Service Providers
in the United Kingdom).
* The blacklisted article was one covering an album, "Virgin Killer", by
a German band called "The Scorpions", released in 1976. The IWF stated
that they took their decision to block "in conjunction with UK law
enforcement", and stated that further actions would be taken "with our
police partners". (BBC Radio 4, The Today Programme, 2008-12-08).
* In subsequent action, on 9 December 2008, the IWF reversed their
decision and removed Wikipedia from its blacklist; stating that
this was the first time that the IWF Appeals Process had been used.

* This request concerns communication from the Police to the IWF between
the time of blocking (believed to be 2008-12-05), and the time of
unblocking (2008-12-09, 18:30 UTC).
* Please confirm: (a) whether the IWF subsequently consulted the
Police/law enforcement before the unblocking/removal took place.
(b) if so, what advice/factual statements the Police/law enforcement
provided to the IWF charity before the unblocking/removal took place.

* Please let me know if you consider that this request is either too
broadly, or too narrowly worded or could benefit from further
clarification.

Your request will now be considered in accordance with the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 (the Act). You will receive a response within
the statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by the Act,
subject to the information not being exempt or containing a reference
to a third party. In some circumstances the MPS may be unable to
achieve this deadline. If this is likely you will be informed and
given a revised time-scale at the earliest opportunity.

Some requests may also require either full or partial transference to
another public authority in order to answer your query in the fullest
possible way. Again, you will be informed if this is the case.

Your attention is drawn to the attached sheet which details your right
of complaint.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your interest
in the MPS.

Should you have any further inquiries concerning this matter, please
write or contact Shannon Aldridge on telephone number 020 7161 3527
quoting the reference number above.

Yours sincerely

Shannon Aldridge
Support Officer
COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Are you unhappy with how your request has been handled or do you think
the decision is incorrect?

You have the right to require the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to
review their decision.

Prior to lodging a formal complaint you are welcome and encouraged to
discuss the decision with the case officer that dealt with your
request.

Ask to have the decision looked at again –

The quickest and easiest way to have the decision looked at again is
to telephone the case officer that is nominated at the end of your
decision letter.

That person will be able to discuss the decision, explain any issues
and assist with any problems.

Complaint

If you are dissatisfied with the handling procedures or the decision
of the MPS made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act)
regarding access to information you can lodge a complaint with the MPS
to have the decision reviewed.

Complaints should be made in writing and addressed to:

FOI Complaint
Public Access Office
PO Box 57192
London
SW6 1SF

In all possible circumstances the MPS will aim to respond to your
complaint within three months.
The Information Commissioner

After lodging a complaint with the MPS if you are still dissatisfied
with the decision you may make application to the Information
Commissioner for a decision on whether the request for information has
been dealt with in accordance with the requirements of the Act.

For information on how to make application to the Information
Commissioner please visit their website at
www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk. Alternatively, phone or write to:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Phone: 01625 545 700

show quoted sections

Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Dear Mr Sladen

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2008120004015
I respond in connection with your request for information dated
13/12/2008 which was received by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on
13/12/2008. I note you seek access to the following information:

During December 2008, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) added a
Wikipedia article to the "Cleanfeed" censorship blacklist (subscribed
to and used by the majority of Internet Service Providers in the United
Kingdom).
The blacklisted article was one covering an album, "Virgin Killer", by a
German band called "The Scorpions", released in 1976.
The IWF stated that they took their decision to block "in conjunction with
UK law enforcement", and stated that further actions would be taken "with
our police partners". (BBC Radio 4, The Today Programme, 2008-12-08).
In subsequent action, on 9 December 2008, the IWF reversed their decision
and removed Wikipedia from its blacklist; stating that this was the
first time that the IWF Appeals Process had been used.
This request concerns communication from the Police to the IWF between the
time of blocking (believed to be 2008-12-05), and the time of unblocking
(2008-12-09, 18:30 UTC).
Please confirm: (a) whether the IWF subsequently consulted the Police/law
enforcement before the unblocking/removal took place. (b) if so, what
advice/factual statements the Police/law enforcement provided to the IWF
charity before the unblocking/removal took place.
Please let me know if you consider that this request is either too
broadly, or too narrowly worded or could benefit from further
clarification.

DECISION

In accordance with the Act, this letter represents a Refusal Notice for
this particular request under Section 17(4).

Section 17(4) of the Act provides:

(4) A public authority is not obliged to make a statement under subsection
(1)(c) or (3) if, or to the extent that, the statement would involve the
disclosure of information which would itself be exempt information.

The Metropolitan Police Service can neither confirm nor deny that it holds
the information you requested as the duty in Section 1(1)(a) of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 does not apply, by virtue of the following
exemption:

S30(3) Investigations

The MPS will not disclose whether it has carried out an investigation, or
whether an investigation is taking place, unless that information has
already been placed in the public domain, through channels such as the
media or the court process. Nor will we confirm whether or not
correspondence has been received by a force from a third party.

Any disclosure under Freedom of Information is a release of information to
the world in general and not an individual applicant. Therefore, simply
confirming or not that such information were held would reveal which force
has and hasn't had contact with the IWF.

There is a requirement to consider whether there is any public interest
which may overcome the harm in confirming or denying the existence of such
information, which primarily hinges on police investigations flow of
information to the police service. Disclosures by confirming or denying
the existence of such information could dissuade third parties from
providing information to the police in the future. The public must have
confidence that their information is treated sensitively and
appropriately.

The MPS can see no benefit to the public in confirming whether this
information is or isn't held.

An example of where this harm could occur may best be demonstrated with a
fictional scenario.
If a Freedom of Information request was made to several forces, asking for
confirmation of which locations drug dealing is prevalent within a force
area, by simply confirming where these locations are by exempting the
information or stating no information held, would provide an awareness of
where an offender feels it is safe to carry out drug deals as the police
are not focusing on those areas.
It could also undermine any covert investigations.

Therefore, at this time, the balance of the public interest favours
maintaining our stance in being unable to confirm or deny that such
information exists.

No inference can be taken from this refusal that the information you have
requested does or does not exist.

COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Your attention is drawn to the attached sheet which details your right of
complaint.

Should you have any further enquiries concerning this matter, please
contact me on telephone number 020 7230 4019 quoting the reference number
above.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Royan-Posse
Case Investigation Officer
COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Are you unhappy with how your request has been handled or do you think the
decision is incorrect?

You have the right to require the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to
review their decision.

Prior to lodging a formal complaint you are welcome and encouraged to
discuss the decision with the case officer that dealt with your request.

Ask to have the decision looked at again ***

The quickest and easiest way to have the decision looked at again is to
telephone the case officer that is nominated at the end of your decision
letter.

That person will be able to discuss the decision, explain any issues and
assist with any problems.

Complaint

If you are dissatisfied with the handling procedures or the decision of
the MPS made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) regarding
access to information you can lodge a complaint with the MPS to have the
decision reviewed.

Complaints should be made in writing and addressed to:

FOI Complaint
Public Access Office
PO Box 57192
London
SW6 1SF

In all possible circumstances the MPS will aim to respond to your
complaint within 40 working days.
The Information Commissioner

After lodging a complaint with the MPS if you are still dissatisfied with
the decision you may make application to the Information Commissioner for
a decision on whether the request for information has been dealt with in
accordance with the requirements of the Act.

For information on how to make application to the Information Commissioner
please visit their website at www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk.
Alternatively, phone or write to:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Phone: 01625 545 700

show quoted sections

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