Those Deemed not a Public Authority by the Information Commissioner

Richard Taylor made this Freedom of Information request to Information Commissioner's Office

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 successful.

Dear Information Commissioner’s Office,

Could you please release the list of those deemed "not a public authority" by the Information Commissioner in respect of, separately, the provisions of the:

Freedom of Information Act 2000
Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002
Environmental Information Regulations 2004

along with the dates of the determinations (or case closure or other easily available approximation) and, if easily available, the dates any requests for information which prompted the ICO's consideration were made.

I expect the information I am seeking can be obtained by searching the ICO's case management database for cases in a "closure state" of "not a pa", and providing the fields requested.



Richard 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
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more information please visit [1]


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


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Yours sincerely


The Information Commissioner’s Office


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Information Commissioner's Office

14 December 2017


Case Reference Number IRQ0711888


Dear Mr Taylor

Request for Information
Further to your information request to the Information Commissioner’s
Office (ICO) of 19 November 2017 we can now respond.
We have dealt with your request in accordance with your ‘right to know’
under section 1(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), which
entitles you to be provided with any information ‘held’ by a public
authority, unless an appropriate exemption applies.
Your request
In your email you asked for the following information:
“Could you please release the list of those deemed "not a public
authority" by the Information Commissioner in respect of, separately, the
provisions of the:
Freedom of Information Act 2000
Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002
Environmental Information Regulations 2004
along with the dates of the determinations (or case closure or other
easily available approximation) and, if easily available, the dates any
requests for information which prompted the ICO's consideration were made.
I expect the information I am seeking can be obtained by searching the
ICO's case management database for cases in a "closure state" of "not a
pa", and providing the fields requested.”
Our response
Whilst we do not hold a specific list detailing the information you have
asked for, this information is contained within our case management
system, which we use to record all complaints, concerns and enquiries
submitted to the ICO.  As such, we can confirm that we do hold information
within the scope of your information request.
Details of those organisations which the ICO has deemed is “not a public
authority” is already available via the ICO website, within the following

This page of our website provides links to various data sets which we
publish routinely, and which includes details of those complaints and
concerns we have considered under the legislation we regulate, including
the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) and the Environmental
Information Regulations 2004 (EIR). 
Although the Information Commissioner does not regulate the Freedom of
Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (this is the responsibility of the
Scottish Information Commissioner), we will occasionally advise an
individual that the organisation they have complained about is not a
public authority subject to the FOI(S) Act, and close the case on this
As our website confirms, our data sets are published in a reusable format,
so can be sorted and filtered to help locate the information of interest. 
Currently all data sets up to August 2017 have been published.  More data
sets will be published for each consecutive month as the information we
hold is collated and checked. 
Amongst other things, each data set includes the case reference, relevant
legislation, created and finished (ie determined) dates, the outcome, and
the name of the party the complaint or concern was submitted about.  For
EIR complaints it will also include the technical breach and (if relevant)
the exception relied upon, and for FOI complaints it will include the
technical breach and (if relevant) the exemption relied upon.
The link to our website provided above also includes further links to
guidance showing the definitions of the FOIA and EIR case outcomes listed
in the data sets.  This confirms that the outcome listed in the data set
as ‘Closed – Not PA’ is used when the organisation being complained about
is not a public authority. 
However, we would also mention that when closing a case many case officers
will also use the category ‘Closed – Not s50’ instead of ‘Closed – Not
PA’.  The ‘Closed – Not s50’ and ‘Closed – Not EIR’ categories are used
when the matters raised are not eligible for consideration under section
50 of the FOIA or the EIR.  Whilst the closure category ‘Not PA’ is more
specific, the ‘Not s50’ and ‘Not EIR’ categories are also applicable as an
information request to an organisation deemed not to be a public authority
cannot be considered under s50 of the FOIA, or the EIR.
Because of this we would suggest that when looking at the information
within the data sets you may wish to search under both the ‘Not PA’, ‘Not
s50’ and ‘Not EIR’ categories. 
As this information is already reasonably accessible to you via the
internet the exemption under section 21 of the FOIA is applicable, which
states “Information which is reasonably accessible to the applicant
otherwise than under section 1 is exempt information”. This means that the
ICO is not required to communicate that information to you, or provide you
with a copy of that information. However, we have provided the link above
for your convenience.

Information we hold relating to those more recent cases closed between
September 2017 and the present time will shortly be published by the ICO.
The information you have requested for this timeframe is therefore exempt
under section 22 of the FOIA as it is ‘information intended for future

Section 22 of the Act states that information is exempt from disclosure in
response to an information request if:
 “(a) the information is held by the public authority with a view to its
publication, by the authority or any other person, at some future date
(whether determined or not),
(b) the information was already held with a view to such publication at
the time when the request for information was made, and
(c) it is reasonable in all the circumstances that the information should
be withheld from disclosure until the date referred to in paragraph (a).”
The exemption at section 22 is qualified by the public interest test,
meaning that the information should be disclosed if the public interest in
the maintenance of the exemption does not outweigh the public interest in
In this case the public interest factors in disclosing the information are
that disclosure would provide information to the public regarding an
organisations requirement or non-requirement to comply with the FOIA and
the EIR. The factors in withholding the information are that the ICO has a
history of publishing this information on a regular basis and has
committed to publishing relevant datasets which will include the relevant
information in the near future, and that early disclosure is not necessary
to satisfy any pressing public interest at
Having considered the public interest arguments, we have decided to
withhold this information in reliance on the exemption at section 22 of
the FOIA.
You have also asked for “… the dates any requests for information which
prompted the ICO’s consideration were made”.
We understand this to mean that, in respect of those complaints discussed
above where we have concluded the organisation concerned is not a public
authority, you are asking for the date the individual submitted their
information request to that organisation (on the assumption that the
organisation was a public authority subject to the FOIA or the EIR).
It is unlikely that we will hold this information in respect of all the
complaints we have considered.  This is because we rely on the individual
to advise us of the date of their information request, or to provide us
with a copy of their request.   If we know at the outset that the
organisation is not a public authority, and that we will not be
considering the complaint further, we would not ask the individual for
this information.
However, where this information is held within each relevant case, in
order to establish the date of each information request submitted to the
organisation we would need to individually check each and every one of
these cases. 
Having searched our electronic case management system, between 1 April
2014 and 31 August 2017 (the dates of published data sets), we have
received approximately 720 complaints under the FOIA and the EIR that have
been closed as ‘Not PA’ or ‘Not s50’.   Assuming that each search of each
of these cases would take approximately 2 minutes to complete, this would
equate to over 24 hours worth of searching. 
You may be aware that section 12 of the FOIA makes clear that a public
authority (such as the ICO) is not obliged to comply with an 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.  Given that the search
I have outlined above would take in excess of 18 hours it is for this
reason, and in accordance with section 12 of the FOIA, that we are not
obliged to comply with your request for information.
However, if you can narrow the scope of your request we may be in a
position to provide the information free of charge, if it will cost us
less than the appropriate limit to do so.  For example, if you can narrow
the dates, or specify the organisations you are interested in, we may be
able to conduct further searches and provide the information you seek.  We
would point out that any reformulated request you may wish to make to the
ICO will be treated as a new FOI request, and the 20 working day time
limit will begin again.
Review Procedure
We hope this response is helpful, but 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 reply directly to this
email (leaving the reference number in square brackets intact), write to
the Information Access Team at the address below or email
[2][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
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 [3]here.
Yours sincerely

Antonia Swann
Lead Information Access Officer
Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire SK9 5AF
T. 01625 545894  F. 01625 524510  [4]  [5]
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Richard Taylor left an annotation ()

At the time of writing the latest entries on the "proactive disclosure" webpages which I have been referred to are from August 2017.

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