Processing of personal data by Parliamentary whips

Information Commissioner’s Office did not have the information requested.

Dear Information Commissioner’s Office,

According to recent media reports, Parliamentary whips maintain records of reported indiscretions by Members of Parliament.

Please can you confirm on how many occasions the Information Commissioner's Office has investigated this processing of personal data.

Yours faithfully,

J Taylor

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
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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

 

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Information Commissioner’s Office

29 November 2017

 

Case Reference Number IRQ0709389

 

Dear J Taylor

Information request

I write in response to your email of 5 November 2017 in which you
submitted a request for information to the Information Commissioner’s
Office (ICO). Your request has been dealt with in accordance with the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).
 
Your request
 
“Dear Information Commissioner’s Office, According to recent media
reports, Parliamentary whips maintain records of reported indiscretions by
Members of Parliament. Please can you confirm on how many occasions the
Information Commissioner's Office has investigated this processing of
personal data”
 
Our response
 
Given the relatively high profile nature of any investigation into, or
data protection complaints received about, the matters you describe; it is
likely that senior managers within the relevant departments of the ICO
would be made aware of it. We have consulted with the relevant heads of
department and group managers and they are not aware of any complaints or
investigations that meet the description of the information you have
requested. Therefore the answer to your request would appear to be zero.

However, in order to provide a definitive response to your request we
would need to manually inspect each case we hold that falls in the sector
category ‘MP’s’ and/or ‘political parties’ to check if the matters related
to the circumstances you describe. We are unfortunately unable to do this
as to do so will exceed the cost limit at section 12 of the FOIA.
 
You may be aware section 12 of the FOIA makes clear that a public
authority (such as the ICO) is not obliged to comply with a FOIA request
if the authority estimates that the cost of complying with the request
would exceed the ‘appropriate limit'. The ‘appropriate limit’ for the ICO,
as determined in the Freedom of Information and Data Protection
(Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004 is £450. We have determined
that £450 would equate to 18 hours work. 

The information you have requested is likely to sit within our electronic
case management system, which we largely use to track and progress
individual cases. However, this system is not set up to easily provide us
with the type of information you have requested.  Generally speaking this
is not the sort of information we would need for our own day to day
business purposes.

The system allows us to search for the cases we have dealt with in a
number of different ways, such as by unique reference number the case was
given, the name of any organisation that complaints have been raised about
or the case outcome. We can also search for cases on the basis of the
broad nature of the matter reported to us, but we can only search on a
limited number of fixed criteria which are structured around the main
sections of the DPA. Cases which relate to the processing of data by
parliamentary whips are likely to fall into our sector designations of
‘MPs’ or ‘Political parties’.

The only way we could identify the information you have requested would be
to manually review the details and correspondence we hold on each DPA
complaint we have received in the above sector designations, in order to
identify if the complaint concerned the processing of personal data by
parliamentary whips.

From April 2014 (the date we still hold complete records for) this would
involve manually reviewing the details and correspondence on 473 cases. We
would estimate that it would take a minimum of 5 minutes per case, with
some cases likely to take much longer, to undertake these manual checks.
Therefore to carry out these searches would take at least 39 hours, which
is well in excess of the section 12 FOIA cost limit.
 
I have given some consideration as to how you may be able to narrow the
scope of your request to bring this within the cost limit. For instance,
you may wish to identify a particular organisation you are interested in,
or a significantly narrower timeframe.

I am sorry we are unable to provide the information you have requested but
I hope this explanation is helpful.

Review Procedure

If you are not satisfied that your request for information has been dealt
with correctly, please write to the Information Access Team at the address
below, reply directly to this email (with the reference number contained
within the square brackets left intact), or email us at
[1][ICO request email], quoting the reference number
IRQ0709389.

Your request for a 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.

Ultimately if you are not satisfied that your request for information 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
relevant legislation.  To make such an application, please write to our
Customer Contact Team at the address below, or visit the ‘Report a
Concern’ section of our website.
 
A copy of our review procedure is available here
[2]https://ico.org.uk/media/about-the-ico/p...
 
Yours sincerely

Ian Goddard
Lead Information Access Officer
Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire SK9 5AF
T. 01625 545823  F. 01625 524510  [3]ico.org.uk  [4]twitter.com/iconews
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The ICO's mission is to uphold information rights in the public interest.
To find out more about our work please visit our website, or subscribe to
our e-newsletter at ico.org.uk/newsletter.

If you are not the intended recipient of this email (and any attachment),
please inform the sender by return email and destroy all copies without
passing to any third parties.

If you'd like us to communicate with you in a particular way please do let
us know, or for more information about things to consider when
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