Key Issue 4
Key Issue 4
Personal Information – Dealing with Third-Party Data
This chapter provides an overview of freedom of information as it is practiced in Scotland, with particular emphasis on issues concerning third-party data. One of the most common and contentious disputes under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) has to do with third-party data and whether the exemption at s 38(1)(b) applies, an issue that pits the right to information against the right to privacy. The task is to reconcile the legal imperative to keep personal information safe and to prevent it being misused by those who have collected it. The courts have made it clear that the general presumption in favour of disclosure created by FOISA does not apply to personal data. Where disclosure of information would contravene the data protection principles, the exemption in FOISA is absolute, and the authority is not required to go on to consider where the balance of the public interest lies in relation to the information. In practice, the key issues to consider are whether the requested information constitutes personal data and, if so, whether disclosure would contravene any of the data protection principles.
Keywords: freedom of information, Scotland, third-party data, Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, right to information, right to privacy, personal information, disclosure, personal data, data protection
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