If you are a public authority, you have certain obligations under the Freedom of Information Scotland Act. These include responding to Freedom of Information Requests (FOI Requests) for information you hold at the date of the request and providing such information unless an exemption applies.
The information requested may include personal data and public authorities often seek to withhold this type of data from the requestor in order to protect the rights of the data subjects under the ‘personal data exemption’. The application of this exemption is not clear cut and often, as a public authority, you will have to balance your requirement to be transparent and accountable to the public with protecting the rights of individuals when it comes to their personal data.
We can help you ensure you comply with your FOI responsibilities while safeguarding individuals’ personal data rights.
Our Data Protection team at Thorntons has expert knowledge of Freedom of Information legislation. We can advise you on compliance and best practice for your organisation to ensure you find the right balance between transparency and accountability to the public and protecting the rights of individuals. We understand that managing FOI Requests can be resource intensive and, through practical advice and support, aim to reduce the burden on you as much as possible.
As well as advising you on generally handling FOI Requests and the applicability of the personal data (or any other) exemption, we can also assist in preparing communications with the requestor, undertaking redactions with our secure redaction software and/or liaising with the Scottish Information Commissioner’s Office if the matter has been escalated to that level.
In addition, we can provide FOI training packages for your staff, which can be tailored to suit your requirements.
Please call our specialist Data Protection team on 03330 430350 for practical advice and support on data protection and Freedom of Information. Or complete our online enquiry form and an expert in our Data Protection team will call you back.