Confidentiality of Freedom of Information applicants (FOI)
Confidentiality of Freedom of Information applicants (FOI)Produced by the Freedom of Information office
Authored by Government of Jersey and published on 06 July 2020.
Prepared internally, no external costs.
Please describe the controls over the confidentiality of the identities of those people making Freedom of Information (FOI) requests; how those controls are monitored, and whether FOI staff are breaking disciplinary codes of conduct if they disclose the identity. How many such breaches of such codes have been recorded and how many staff have been disciplined for a breach? Which senior officer is responsible for managing these controls?
The Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011 does not mention confidentiality for requestors. All requestor data must be processed within the bounds of the Data Protection (Jersey) Law 2018.
Requests are received by the Central Freedom of Information Unit (CFU), either through the online portal, by email or letter, or forwarded from a department (when a requester has made their request direct to a department). Where a request has been forwarded to the unit by a department it is clear that the department will be aware of who the requester is.
Requests are then logged by the CFU and allocated to a responding department.
Under the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011, each department (or Scheduled Public Authority) is autonomous and bears responsibility for their own FOI responses. The CFU is in place to act as a conduit between the requester and the departments. All Departments (Scheduled public authorities) are entitled to receive the requestors details, however most departments choose to receive anonymised requests.
Where the response to a request relates to the requester themselves it may be necessary for their name to be passed to the relevant departmental section so that they are able to collate the relevant documents. An example of where this may happen is where the requester asks for everything held by planning relating to themselves and to their property. These are known as ‘hybrid requests’ as they fall under both the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011 and the Data Protection (Jersey) Law 2018. Because this type of request would reveal the name of the requester these are not published on the disclosure log.
Some Departments do receive Requester details as a matter of course (for example the States of Jersey Police). Where details are provided to Departments, they are only provided to the FOI Point of Contact at that Department.
No breaches of FOI confidentiality have been reported and, to the best of our knowledge, no member of staff has been disciplined for an FOI related data breach.
The Director General for each Department is responsible for managing FOI requests and FOI data within that Department.