Personal Data in the Upper Tribunal – Panopticon

Posted March 4th, 2019 in data protection, disclosure, freedom of information, news by sally

‘We all love nuggets, be they of gold or chicken. A couple of short recent Upper Tribunal judgments reached under FOIA may not be finger-lickin’ good, but are nonetheless worthy noting as a tasty morsel or two.In Information Commissioner v Halpin [2019] UKUT 29 (AAC) Judge Markus QC overturned an FTT decision which had held that personal data was not exempt under section 40(2) FOIA. She explained that the FTT had erred in declining to have regard to the possibility of wider disclosure to the world beyond the requestor – because the public authority would no longer have any control over the information once released – such that it had failed properly to balance the competing interests and effects of disclosure. This was a point made in GR-N v Information Commissioner & NMC [2015] UKUT 449 (AAC) and applied since. The requestor’s private motives were sufficient to form a legitimate interest, but did not form a justification for disclosure to the world at large. The FTT had also erred in failing to address the core concern of the public authority, that disclosure would lead to inappropriate complaints against or other targeting of the particular data subjects causing them stress. It was no answer to that to say that the authority had procedures to address complaints: the point was not that the complaints would be upheld but that they would have to be dealt with when they would not have been without disclosure.’

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Panopticon, 28th February 2019