Why has Ofcom misled the public, MPs and many others regarding PLT interference?

The request was refused by Office of Communications.

Michael Trodd

Dear Office of Communications,

I refer to the ERA-RFI Tests Comtrend PLT 2008-0578 Ofcom.pdf report that the information commissioner required you to make public.

The report is dated September 2008.

Skipping to page 12 the report can be summed up with this quote.
"It is considered that the Ethernet power line adaptors do not satisfy the essential requirements of the EMC Directive"

1) Please then say why Ofcom, who commissioned this report and were in possession of it continued to publish to its web site statements such as:

"On the evidence, Ofcom has not so far found that there is a breach of the EMC essential requirements" (dated a full year after the report)?

2) Please say why Ofcom in several letters to Mr Nick Gibb MP also continued to say there was no evidence of a breach of the EMC essential requirements?

3) Please say why Ofcom have assisted BT by suppressing this report?

4) Please say now if you have suppressed any other reports or data indicating that PLT (that you have allowed to market in the UK) Fails the EMC essential requirements?

5) Please now justify your stance on PLT as you were aware that these Comtrend PLT devices were causing unacceptable levels of radio interference to not only radio listeners and amateur operators but also to safety of life services and possibly home security services?

6)Please explain how Ofcom is an evidence-based regulator yet ignored the evidence and in fact hid it for two years?

7) Please now say how you plan to withdraw all PLT from the market and that already installed?

8) From the report: 'Declarations of Conformity for both types of adaptor refer to the EMC Directive 2004/108/EC
and refer to standard EN 55022:1998 and CISPR/I/89/CD. The latter was a draft only that has now been withdrawn and should not be referenced on a DoC; the former standard is not complied with based on the testing reported herein. For the Power Grid 902, the DoC refers to Technical Construction File identified as XXXXXXX, this is not an acceptable reference on the DoC'

Given that it is Ofcom's duty to ensure conformity please expalin why you have allowed this breach to continue and detail any action (if any) you took in this regard?

9) Please now say just how much evidence Ofcom requires before it will carry out its statutory duty and ban and remove PLT from the market, given this report, the PA report, severe concerns by professional radio users and the ever increasing number of interference cases from members of the public?

Yours faithfully,

Michael Trodd

Eleanor Berg, Office of Communications

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Trodd

Please see correspondence attached.

Yours sincerely

Eleanor Berg

:: Eleanor Berg
Information Requests

[1][Ofcom request email]

:: Ofcom
Riverside House
2a Southwark Bridge Road
London SE1 9HA
020 7981 3000
[2]www.ofcom.org.uk

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Michael Trodd

Dear Eleanor Berg,

Thank you for the out dated reply.
I need to look into it deeply however I am very unhappy that Ofcom has failed to answer my questions properly.
Have ignored the request for an internal review and lumped my separate complaint into the same answers.

I point out that your message in this reply is confused and in error.

You say on one hand that PLT must comply with the EMC regulations 2006 (which are EN55022) then go onto say that for some reason known only to Ofcom that they don't need to comply to it as they need their own standard???

To save me having to submit another FOI please could you by way of example supply me with the special standards that kettles, toasters, shavers have to comply to?

Also, please then tell me which devices do need to comply with EN55022 as clearly from what you are saying any manufacture can decide he does not like the law of the land and make up something new?

Bitterly disappointed

Yours sincerely,

Michael Trodd

Caroline Sims, Office of Communications

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Trodd, please find attached a letter from Graham Howell in
response to your request for information.

Yours sincerely
Caroline Sims

:: Caroline Sims
PA to Graham Howell
Secretariat
020 7981 3561
[email address]
:: Ofcom
Riverside House
2a Southwark Bridge Road
London SE1 9HA
020 7981 3000
www.ofcom.org.uk

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Michael Trodd

Dear Office of Communications,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Office of Communications's handling of my FOI request 'Why has Ofcom misled the public, MPs and many others regarding PLT interference?'.

[ With respect, Ofcom have not indicated, in particular, why they think PLT needs its own special standard, what other devices get their own standard when they cannot comply. And since no special standard does exist, why PLT has been permitted anyway?

Nowhere in the public statements by Ofcom is any of this addressed. Which forms the main request for information. ]

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/wh...

Yours faithfully,

Michael Trodd

Graham Howell, Office of Communications

Dear Mr. Trodd,
Thank you for your request for an internal review.
The Freedom of Information legislation is designed to enable applicants to request information that exists in documentary form-whether that is correspondence (in letter or email format), slide presentations, minutes of meetings or actual reports and other documentation. What the legislation is not designed to do is to require public bodies to generate information in response to specific questions.
Ofcom has now published all the material it can on PLT devices.
Your questions in your recent email do not seek any particular published information (and Ofcom has no additional material to release in any event)-they are designed to require Ofcom to generate responses to specific queries that you raise; Ofcom will not be doing so.
As I indicated in my initial response to you it is likely that all future Freedom of Information legislation requests will be referred to the Ofcom web-site where we have now published considerable material about PLT devices.
I am therefore noting that Ofcom has reviewed your request for an Internal Review, has undertaken a review, and has not changed its position from the letter sent to you on June 8th 2011.
Yours sincerely,
Graham Howell

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Michael Trodd

Dear Graham Howell,

I note your refusal to carry out an internal review in line with the requirements!

Referring me and others to published data may or may not be within the FOI guidelines but you have not published the data I have been seeking.

Setting these points aside.

I am seeking information that exists in documentary form-whether that is correspondence (in letter or email format), slide presentations, minutes of meetings or actual reports and other documentation.

As per my FOI request, as to why Ofcom has stated that PLT does not need to comply to existing EMC standards and regulations and requires its own standard (as yet un-written)
EN55022 is not the applicable standard for PLT. Why?

This is a very simple request and I do intend to continue to press for such information so that I can understand Ofcom's position.

If you do not hold any information that exists in documentary form-whether that is correspondence (in letter or email format), slide presentations, minutes of meetings or actual reports and other documentation.
That would answer my request please say so.

So please supply supporting documents that clarify this point.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Trodd

Graham Howell, Office of Communications

Dear Mr. Trodd,
Thank you for your email.
In response:
1. I can confirm that Ofcom does not hold the information about PLT devices that you have requested; and
2. You state that 'Ofcom has stated that PLT does not need to comply to existing EMC standards and regulations and requires its own standard (as yet un-written)
EN55022 is not the applicable standard for PLT.' Ofcom has not made those assertions-Ofcom's position on PLT devices and the EMC standards is made clear in the information published on Ofcom's web-site.
Yours sincerely,
Graham Howell

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Michael Trodd

Dear Graham Howell,

Dear Mr Howel

I thank you for your reply and for confirmation that you do not hold any documents as would be applicable under the FOI mandate that would answer my questions and request for such documents.

I am most interested to hear that. "Ofcom has not made those assertions- EN55022 is not the applicable standard for PLT"

Because on your own web page

http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/enforce...

Under the headings: Harmonised Standards and Insufficient evidence.

You say: There is no suitable standard which is directly applicable to PLT products (so not EN55022?)

And:

Significantly, the conclusions of the disclosed report were based on an assessment against a harmonised standard for (EN55022) which is not specifically intended for PLT apparatus!

Further
The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Mr Mark Prisk)
In answer to Mark Lancaster (Milton Keynes North)

on the 18th May in the house said
“My hon. Friend referred to EN55022, and I am sure most Members are no more familiar with it than many Ministers have been over the years. Let me explain that, following discussions between the European Commission, member states and the industry, it was agreed that this standard could not apply to PLT equipment for a variety of technical and administrative reasons”

So, please can I ask, was Ofcom part of those discussions and does Ofcom agree or not?

If Ofcom was not part of these discussions (which seems unlikely) I suppose this is why you have no documents about it. Would I do better to address this with the BIS?

You have indicated in your reply that Ofcom does not think EN55022 is the wrong standard, or have you?

This is the reason for the continued stream of FOIs, we need clarity and this is not being provided.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Trodd

Graham Howell, Office of Communications

Dear Mr. Trodd,

Thank you for your e-mail.

Ofcom has not stated that “there are no applicable standards for PLT”
; what Ofcom has stated is that there is no standard which is directly
applicable to PLT-which is an accurate assessment and is substantiated by
the various documents published on our web site.

All documentation that Ofcom is able to publish on PLT devices has now
been published on our web-site. There is nothing more that I can add.

Yours sincerely,

Graham Howell

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Gary Myers MIET MBCS CITP left an annotation ()

Ofcom are wrong that there is no applicable standard for PLT.

In a written answer in the European Parliament, Mr Verheugen on behalf of the Commission stated, "PLC are subject of the European standard EN 55022 published under the EMC Directive(1). Currently both, its 1998 and 2006 versions can be used. As of October 2009 onwards the 1998 version is foreseen to be withdrawn and the 2006 version will be the only one giving presumption of conformity".

P Stevens left an annotation ()

My God. So if I say "there are no laws directly applicable to driving tractors without number plates", that's not the same as saying "there are no laws applicable to driving tractors without number plates ?

Michael Trodd

Dear Graham Howell,

I thank you for your further reply.

This I am afraid once again prompts me to ask you.
Why is EN55022 not fully applicable to PLT when it is in fact applicable to all other devices.

For example, the speed limit is the speed limit no matter what type of car or capability! Why is PLT being made special and above the law?

This question was the main thrust of my FOI and still remains to be answered in words that the general public can understand.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Trodd

Graham Howell, Office of Communications

Dear Mr. Trodd,

Thank you for your e-mail.

The Freedom of Information legislation is designed to enable access to be
given (subject to certain exemptions) to documentary information held by
certain public bodies (of which Ofcom is one). What the legislation is not
designed to do is to require public bodies to generate information in
response to questions from individuals.

In the instance of your latest requests for information Ofcom has made it
clear that it has now published on its website all information that it can
in relation to PLT devices. The confusion, I believe, is around your wish
to have certain questions answered - which you believe Ofcom has, so far,
failed to respond to appropriately. That, however, is not covered by the
Freedom of Information legislation as what you wish Ofcom to do is to
provide something beyond what has been published. Ofcom will not be doing
so as Ofcom believes that it has made its position clear in the
information that it has disclosed.

Our statement and supporting information on PLT matters can be found on
our website here:
[1]http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/enforce....

Yours sincerely,

Graham Howell

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Michael Trodd

Dear Graham Howell,

Well that is a very sad stance to be taking publically I feel.
But I agree, I have gone as far as I can with Ofcom as you have refused the internal review, and are refusing to provide information in line with the FOI process.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Trodd

P Stevens left an annotation ()

Well, they didn't answer the questions on the grounds they didn't have any documents pertaining to those questions. FOI aside, they could still have addressed your questions instead of fobbing off you, and the rest of us who wanted to know.

I find it very hard to believe they took the decision to ignore their own tests of PLT equipment without some kind of meeting with minutes or notes taken, at least I would hope they wouldn't do something with such potentially devastating effects (now proven) to stakeholders over a couple pints and a pie at lunchtime. Is that what we're being led to believe?

This isn't over.

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