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Foia DP Presentation


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a BAsic Look at the Freedom of Information & Data Protection Act

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Foia DP Presentation

  1. 1. Access to Information <br />and <br />Privacy Protection<br />Office of the Prime Minister<br />Freedom of Information Division, <br />Thursday 12th May 2011<br />
  2. 2. Objectives<br />To outline the purpose for and benefits of the Freedom of Information Act & the Data Protection Bill<br />To emphasize the importance of communication and support from all departments in the effective implementation these legislation<br />To understand how public authorities use and disclose information under these legislation<br />
  3. 3. Freedom of Information Act Chap 22:02<br />
  4. 4. Freedom of Information Act<br />An Act which gives individuals the right to request information from any public authority and the right to amend personal records that are incorrect or misleading<br />
  5. 5. 5<br />Freedom of Information<br />“Information is the Oxygen of democracy. If<br />People do not know what is happening in their<br />society, if the actions of those who rule them<br />are hidden, then they cannot take a meaningful<br />part in the affairs of that society”<br />
  6. 6. 6<br />The FOIA enshrines the concept that information collected and generated by government, is a resource of the people, for the people and is to be accessible as freely as possible by the people. <br />The Act should not displace formal procedures for access to information but should be regarded as a legislative “last resort.”<br />Freedom of Information<br />
  7. 7. Tenets of the Act<br />
  8. 8. Principle1 Principle 2<br />Basic Principles of FOI Legislation<br />Maximum disclosure<br />Publish key information<br />Principle 3 Principle 4<br />Promote open government<br />Exceptions narrowly drawn<br />Principle 5 Principle 6<br />Processed rapidly and fairly<br />Minimum costs<br />
  9. 9. What Bodies are covered by the Act?<br />Public Authority<br />If it exercises any function on behalf of the state<br />if it was established by virtue of the President, by a Minister of Government in his capacity or by another public authority<br />an organization that is supported directly or indirectly by Government funds and over which Government is in a position to exercise control<br />
  10. 10. A closer look at the legislation<br />
  11. 11. Accessing Information under the Act<br />The Act is for accessing information that is not readily available to the public<br />E.g. Board Minutes, Tender Documents, Financial Records, Interview Score Sheets<br />
  12. 12. What information can be released?<br />
  13. 13. How to Access Information<br /><ul><li>Acquire: forms can be obtained from any public authority or the FOI website (
  14. 14. Complete: One can seek assistance from designated officers to complete form
  15. 15. Submit: Forms can be submitted via mail or in person
  16. 16. Advise: Advise applicant of the process and 30 day period for an official response and inform of further measures that can be made if there is an unsatisfactory response</li></ul>Schedule<br />
  17. 17. The key players<br />
  18. 18. Exemption (Part IV)<br />There are ??? Exemptions under the Act<br />Eleven (11)<br />It is important to note that exceptions are not absolute. <br />Public authorities are required to give consideration to the public interest in determining whether access should be given to exempt documents.<br />
  19. 19. Exemption (Part IV)<br />
  20. 20. Public Interest Section 35<br /><ul><li>Notwithstanding any law to the contrary a public authority shall give access to an exempt document where there is reasonable evidence that significant:
  21. 21. Abuse of authority of neglect in the performance of official duty; or
  22. 22. Injustice to an individual; or
  23. 23. Danger to the health or safety of an individual or of the public; or
  24. 24. Unauthorised use of public funds has or is likely to occur. </li></li></ul><li>Public Interest Section 35<br /><ul><li>An important thing to note about this test is that it has a presumption in favour of disclosure.
  25. 25. The burden is on the public authority to show that the public interest in withholding the information is greater then the public interest in disclosure.</li></li></ul><li>Public Interest Section 35<br /><ul><li>"The question of what constitutes the public interest is not a static or circumscribed notion.” per Beezley J in Australian Doctors' Fund Ltd v. Commonwealth of Australia (1994) 49 FCR 478 at para. 34.
  26. 26. Moreover the matters must be of legitimate concern to the public. In TV3 Network Series v. B.S.A (1995) 2 NZLR 720 at 733, a privacy case, Eichelbaum CJ stated:</li></ul>"It is necessary to draw attention to the distinction between matters<br />properly within the public interest, in the sense of being of <br />legitimate concern to the public, and those which are merely <br />interesting to the public on a human level- between what is <br />interesting to the public and what is in the public interest to be <br />made known."<br />
  27. 27. Public Recourse<br /><ul><li>Response within 30 calendar days
  28. 28. Remedies Ombudsman (Section 38)</li></ul>(21 days)<br /> Judicial Review (Section 39)<br />(3 months)<br /><ul><li>Correction of Personal Information (Section 36)</li></li></ul><li>Data Protection Bill 2011<br />
  29. 29. 22<br />Data Protection<br />Whilst citizens have a right to information about their Government, as recognised & facilitated by FOIA, this right must be balanced with the rights of individuals to have their personal privacy maintained & respected.<br />
  30. 30. 23<br />What does the Data Protection Bill* set out to do?<br />This legislation provides for the protection of personal privacy, and the information of individuals which is in the custody or control of an organization, whether public or private.<br />* Note – the Bill is currently before Parliament and may be subject to amendments<br />
  31. 31. 24<br />Why is the Protection of Personal Information necessary?<br />Privacy has long been understood to have a value in a civil society that respects inherent rights & values of mankind<br />T&T Constitution enshrines the right to privacy<br />Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that privacy is a fundamental human right<br />Privacy is an important element in the control of electronic activities such as unsolicited marketing & spam<br />
  32. 32. What do these organizations have in common<br />
  33. 33. 26<br />Aim of the DP Bill <br />The Bill aims to ensure that personal information shall not be disclosed, processed or used other than the purpose for which it was collected, except with the consent of the individual and where exemptions are clearly defined.<br />
  34. 34. 27<br />Note that the Bill aims to balance personal information needs with broader public interest needs such as law enforcement, security and public health, as identified in the exemptions.<br />Aim of the DP Bill <br />
  35. 35. 28<br />Who will be affected by this Legislation?<br />Every citizen and resident of T&T; <br />All Public Bodies; as well as <br />Private Enterprises, through either voluntary or mandatory codes of conduct to be developed in conjunction with the Information Commissioner.<br />
  36. 36. 29<br />What is meant by ‘Personal Information’?<br />Personal Information means information about an identifiable individual that is recorded in any form. <br />Info re race, ethnicity, religion or marital status<br />Info re education, medical, criminal or employment history; or info relating to financial transactions in which the individual has been involved;<br />Any identifying number or symbol e.g. Identification Card No. or Driver’s Permit No.<br />Fingerprint, DNA or blood type<br />
  37. 37. 30<br />What is meant by ‘Sensitive Personal Information’?<br />This refers to personal information on a person’s:<br />Racial or ethnic origins<br />Religious beliefs or other beliefs of a similar nature<br />Physical or mental health condition<br />Sexual orientation or sexual life; or<br />Criminal or financial record<br />
  38. 38. 31<br />The General Privacy Principles<br />These establish norms & requirements for the physical & electronic security of Personal Information. They mandate:<br />Identification by the organisation of the purpose for which it was collected before or at time of collection<br />Individual’s knowledge & consent required for collection, use or disclosure of the pi.<br />Collection to be legal and limited to what is necessary in accordance with the identified purpose<br />
  39. 39. 32<br />Organisations are to make available to individuals documents re their policies & practices related to the management of personal info (except where otherwise provided by law)<br />To enable individuals to verify the accuracy & completeness of their info, organisations are to disclose on request all docs. re the existence, use & disclosure of their pi.<br />The General Privacy Principles<br />
  40. 40. 33<br />Retained only for as long as is necessary for purpose collected & not disclosed for purposes other than purpose of collection w/o individual’s prior consent<br />It shall be accurate, complete and up-to-date<br />To be protected by such appropriate safeguards necessary in accordance with sensitivity of the info<br />The General Privacy Principles<br />
  41. 41. 34<br />The General Privacy Principles<br />Individuals have the right to challenge organisation’s compliance with the GPP & receive timely & appropriate engagement from the organisation<br />Re foreign requests – personal information that is requested to be disclosed outside T&T is to be regulated. Comparable safeguards to those under the DP Bill are to exist in jurisdiction receiving the pi.<br />
  42. 42. 35<br />Collection of personal information<br />Personal info may not be collected by a PA unless:<br />The collection of that info is expressly authorized by or under written law;<br />Info is collected for the purposes of law enforcement; or<br />That info relates directly & is necessary for an operating programme or activity of the PA.<br />
  43. 43. 36<br />Collection of personal information<br />PA to ensure that individual from whom it collects personal info or causes pi to be collected is informed of:<br />Purpose for collecting it;<br />The legal authority for so doing;<br />The title, business address & telephone no. of official/employee/PA who can answer individuals’ questions about the collection<br />
  44. 44. 37<br />Right of Access by Individual to PI<br />Every T&T citizen and resident has a right to Personal Info about them in a personal information bank in PA’s custody & control;<br />Request to be made on a prescribed form;<br />PA Head may refuse disclosure of the PI if:<br />Disclosure constitutes an unjustified invasion of another’s personal privacy<br />It is a correctional record that could reveal info supplied in confidence;<br />
  45. 45. 38<br />Data Sharing & Data Matching<br />Government is subject to specific responsibilities re data sharing and data matching that recognizes the importance of Government as a primary holder of info about individuals<br />Where a Public Body intends to share info with other Public Body, it shall do so only pursuant to an agreement in a manner prescribed by the Commissioner by Order<br />
  46. 46. PRIVACY IMPACT ASSESSMENTS<br />Public Bodies are required to<br />prepare PIAs in the prescribed<br />form for any:<br />Proposed enactment<br />System<br />Project<br />Programme or <br />Activity <br />
  47. 47. PRIVACY IMPACT ASSESSMENTS<br />PIAs are to be submitted by every Public Body to the Commissioner for approval and evaluation in accordance with the GPP<br />Commissioner may make recommendations to the Public Body for amendments<br />
  48. 48. PRIVACY IMPACT ASSESSMENTS<br /> Public Bodies are to take all reasonable steps in accordance with its PIA to avoid unnecessary intrusions into personal privacy when designing, implementing or enforcing enactments, systems, projects, programmes or activities.<br />
  49. 49. 42<br />THANK YOU FOR <br />YOUR ATTENTION<br />