Suppressing unfavourable political information

A Gould made this Freedom of Information request to Westminster City Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was refused by Westminster City Council.

Dear Westminster City Council,

I wish to make a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

I understand from a visit to a Westminster Library and from other Council staff, that access to the domain name nutsville.com and the IP(74.86.192.90 )number it resides on is blocked to the general public and some staff.

It is possible that in blocking this website from the general public that Westminster City Council as a Local Authority maybe in at least partial violation of The Human Rights Act 1998, specifically Article 10, Freedom of Expression:

You have the right to hold opinions and express your views on your own or in a group. This applies even if they are unpopular or disturbing. This right can only be restricted in specified circumstances.

1) I would like to request to see copies of any documents of internal communications you have (which I would presume to be emails and records of telephone
conversations, but may include letters, diary entries and other documents) that relate to the blocking of
nutsville.com form the Westminster City Council IT network between The Head of IT Service Delivery for Westminster City Council, his/her staff and any other Council officers involved with the blocking of this site?

2) Who made the decision to block this site?

3) The reasons for the block of the website?
4) A list of any other political blogs or campaign websites, social networking site which Westminster City Council have blocked from their network.?

To help you focus your enquiries I believe the block came into effect on or after May 2010

If this request is likely to be rejected for being over-broad or taking too much time to gather the response, please could you advise me on how I might alter my request such that it would not be rejected.

Thank you for your help with this issue.

Yours faithfully,

A Gould

Westminster City Council

Confirmation of Freedom Of Information Request

Thank you for your request for information.

Your request details have now been recorded and will be passed on to the
appropriate Divisional Records Officer for action.

This Freedom Of Information Request was based on the following
information:

Name: A Gould
Address: See email address
Email: [FOI #59995 email]
Telephone:
Request Details: Re. nutsville.com and the IP(74.86.192.90 )number it
resides

1) I would like to request to see copies of any documents of
internal communications you have (which I would presume to be
emails and records of telephone
conversations, but may include letters, diary entries and other
documents) that relate to the blocking of
nutsville.com form the Westminster City Council IT network between
The Head of IT Service Delivery for Westminster City Council,
his/her staff and any other Council officers involved with the
blocking of this site?

2) Who made the decision to block this site?

3) The reasons for the block of the website?
4) A list of any other political blogs or campaign websites, social
networking site which Westminster City Council have blocked from
their network.?

To help you focus your enquiries I believe the block came into
effect on or after May 2010

FOI Reference Number: 6531
Target Completion Date: 23/02/2011

Please do not reply to this email.
This is an automatic response to your request, and replies to this message
will not be actioned.

If you need to contact Westminster City Council regarding your request,
please contact:

mailto:[Westminster City Council request email]
Tel:020 7641 3921

show quoted sections

FOI, Westminster City Council

Dear A Gould

Thank you for your recent request to the council. You asked to be provided
with the following information:

re nutsville.com and the IP(74.86.192.90 ) number it resides

1) I would like to request to see copies of any documents of internal
communications you have (which I would presume to be emails and records of
telephone conversations, but may include letters, diary entries and other
documents) that relate to the blocking of nutsville.com form the
Westminster City Council IT network between The Head of IT Service
Delivery for Westminster City Council, his/her staff and any other
Council officers involved with the blocking of this site?

2) Who made the decision to block this site?

3) The reasons for the block of the website?

4) A list of any other political blogs or campaign websites, social
networking site which Westminster City Council have blocked from
their network?

Response

The council has not requested that the site listed above be blocked from
its servers. Accordingly I have responded to each question raised in turn.

1) I would like to request to see copies of any documents of internal
communications you have (which I would presume to be emails and records of
telephone conversations, but may include letters, diary entries and other
documents) that relate to the blocking of nutsville.com form the
Westminster City Council IT network between The Head of IT Service
Delivery for Westminster City Council, his/her staff and any other
Council officers involved with the blocking of this site?

Not applicable - WCC did not take a decision to block this site and as
such, there is no correspondence relating to this matter held by the
council.

2) Who made the decision to block this site?

Not Applicable - the site was not deliberately blocked by WCC and as
such, no decision was taken.

3) The reasons for the block of the website?

Not Applicable - the site was no deliberately blocked by WCC.

4) A list of any other political blogs or campaign websites, social
networking site which Westminster City Council have blocked from
their network?

The council does not block sites from their network but rather blocks
pages from being delivered to users based on the council's Internet Access
Policy. This policy uses Microsoft products to determine whether or not
the page would breach the council's Reasonable Use Policy. As such, the
information you have requested is not held.

I hope this answers your query. Should you have any further questions,
please contact the team at the address below

Yours sincerely

Catherine Preston
Knowledge and Information Management Team
Information Services

Westminster City Council
101 Orchardson Street
London NW8 8EA
Tel: 020 7641 3921
Fax: 020 7641 2872
Email: [Westminster City Council request email]
www.westminster.gov.uk

show quoted sections

Gordon Hill left an annotation ()

The real test would be for a WCC resident to go into their local library and check a bunch of Labour, Tory and LibDem blog sites to see what's available.

This could bring up some interesting findings.

Paul J Herring left an annotation ()

"The council does not block sites from their network but rather blocks pages from being delivered to users based on the council's Internet Access Policy."

I fail to see the substantive difference between "not blocking sites" and "blocking pages based on the IAP" when dealing with this FOI request, since one such rule could be to block all pages with the word "nutsville" in them.

Perhaps another FOI request needs to be submitted substituting the relevant terms, or this one clarified to the same effect, so they can't wriggle out of answering who blocked what under the council's IAP.