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Physical Security Thread, Freedom of Information Act request in Technical; Its not from someone offering to outsource your IT is it?...
  1. #16
    jimmy_2k's Avatar
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    Its not from someone offering to outsource your IT is it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy69 View Post
    "An authority can take into account the costs attributable to the time that persons (both the authority’s staff and external contractors) are expected to spend on these activities. Such costs are calculated at £25 per hour per person for all authorities regardless of the actual cost or rate of pay,"

    This comes from advice issued by the ICO in June 2009 and is used in respect of charging and determining whther the cost would exceed £450 in which case the request maybe refused.
    Do remember that the £450 appropriate limit (Guide to fees - Ministry of Justice) isn't to be charged back to the requester. For requests that cost less then this limit (factoring in appropriate time to find/collate the information etc) you can charge for disbursements (such as photocopying and postage) but only at reasonable rates.

    If you calculate the cost to be greater than the appropriate limit then you should inform the requester how much you believe the FOI request would cost to fulfill.

  3. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by powdarrmonkey View Post
    No you are not. You must treat a request by email the same as a request by letter, taking the source address to be the return address if necessary.
    Read the statement again 'You are within your rights to ask for a contact Postal address before replying.'

    You are assuming that because the request came in electronic format that you have to reply in the same format. You don't, you can give the information in any format that you see fit. If the requester insists on electronic format then he should be made aware of the additional costs etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by powdarrmonkey View Post
    No you are not. You must treat a request by email the same as a request by letter, taking the source address to be the return address if necessary.
    In that case, how does the school know that the person requesting the information is a UK citizan? Especially when all they give is a Gmail\Hotmail address, which I suspect is so the school does not get to identify the company involved? And has anyone reported these requests to the Information Commissioner office?

  5. #20

    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dos_Box View Post
    In that case, how does the school know that the person requesting the information is a UK citizan? Especially when all they give is a Gmail\Hotmail address, which I suspect is so the school does not get to identify the company involved? And has anyone reported these requests to the Information Commissioner office?
    They don't have to be a UK citizen (it isn't mentioned in the law AFAIK).

  6. #21
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    Well, I passed it to the Head (via his PA) along with the correct answers and he said to send them, so she (his PA) did. All I gave were one word or numerical answers - I don't think they'll be much use to anyone especially as our (former estate agent) receptionist filters virtually all sales calls for me anyway

    The last two questions I answered with "Unable to respond - Question too vague" as it depends on what you classify as an "ICT Partner" and an "ICT Strategy" and I wasn't about to go into a lengthy explaination of our arrangements, particularly when the guidelines for a FOI request state to word your questions carefully.
    Last edited by BatchFile; 17th June 2010 at 08:30 AM.

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  8. Thanks to ICT_GUY from:

    pwds (17th June 2010)

  9. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by TonyRidal View Post
    I've just had the following email passed to me:
    Received an identical email from the same sender. Shortly after acknowledging the request I started to receive marketing emails and phone calls from an IT company. Too much of a coincidence and an abuse of our FoI obligations as far as I'm concerned.

    On a positive note our Council's FoI team was extremely helpful and I would recommend getting help to anyone who finds themselves subjected to similar trawling activities.

  10. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by timg View Post
    Too much of a coincidence and an abuse of our FoI obligations as far as I'm concerned.

    On a positive note our Council's FoI team was extremely helpful and I would recommend getting help to anyone who finds themselves subjected to similar trawling activities.
    You still have to complete FOI's though. It is annoying, but it took a long time to get a FOI act in this country and it does mean that a lot of things are now more transparent than they were. There will always be instances where things don't work quite how they were meant to but on the whole the FOI is a good thing. The questions can be answered very generally and almost all of it is info that someone could get from any child going to that school.

  11. #25

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    If you added the legal boiler plate to the end of your reply then I would request where they go your information from and imply that they have gotten your details in a dodgy way, the company may take note. Also send an email back to the address you sent the request to stating you have a suspicion the information supplied has been used for commercial gain, you are investigating and will be passing the information on to the appropriate authorities. Hopefully will make them think. Though doubt there is a lot you can do. Maybe a DPA jobby.

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    Quote Originally Posted by witch View Post
    You still have to complete FOI's though.
    I did. I could have spoken to the company I suspect was involved and resolved the issue in a matter of minutes. Instead I had to go through formal channels, wasting my time and that of the three people who forwarded the message before it reached me along with the FoI team at the Council.

    Multiply that by the number of people who might have received and responded the "survey" and that's a lot of time wasted. Then factor in the people who might get in trouble for not responding.

    I'm not questionning the validity of the Freedom of Information Act. What I will question are the scruples of companies who employ these tactics. If anyone reading this post works for such a company then people might dodge your sales calls, send your marketing emails to the junk mail folder and bin your mailshots. Get over it, that's what happens sometimes, but spare us all from the official nature of a FoI request.

    Rant over, time for lunch :-)
    Last edited by notlob; 28th June 2010 at 12:59 PM.

  13. Thanks to notlob from:

    BatchFile (28th June 2010)

  14. #27

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    I've had the same email, didn't reply at the time. Won't be replying now

  15. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by jhothersall View Post
    I've had the same email, didn't reply at the time. Won't be replying now
    Why not? Why won't you be following the law?

  16. #29

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    It isn't illegal to use the FOI to find out info then used for marketing, AFAIC - you can hold back 'commercially sensitive' info but that is all. Not really any different from other marketing ploys.
    As for not completing the FOI - if you really don't want to then send it up the line otherwise the law-breaking buck will stop with you. This 'Tom Elliott' thing is so big that I think they might well pass on details of organisations who refused the request.

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    I agree with witch on this, it isn't worth the risk of being the one who ignored the request. As well as any personal impact I wouldn't want it to damage the reputation of my school if any kind of public fuss was made.

    From my (first) experience of dealing with a FOI request I'd say it really is worth running it by whoever at your Council can help.

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