Post archive

New FOISA Qualifcation

Act Now Training is pleased to announce the Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information (Scotland).  This is the first certificated course specifically designed for those who work with Freedom of Information and the Environmental Information Regulations in Scotland. Successful candidates will receive a certificate  demonstrating that they possess a good knowledge of Freedom of Information and other information laws as they apply in Scotland, as well as an understanding of the practical implications for their organisation.

The Certificate is endorsed by the Centre for Freedom of Information based at the University of Dundee. The Executive Director of the Centre is Professor Kevin Dunion (formerly the Scottish Information Commissioner). Professor Dunion says:

    "On behalf of the Centre for Freedom of Information, I am pleased to endorse Act Now Training's Practitioner Certificate in Freedom (Scotland). In my view it is important that the skills which our FOI(S)A practitioners have     built     up should be formally recognised through a certificated qualification. The training approach and course documentation reflect the distinctiveness of our Scottish FoI regime. I am confident that Scottish FOI(S)A practitioners will find this course invaluable in acquiring a greater understanding of all aspects of information rights legislation which impacts on Scotland. In particular the practical elements of the course will improve delegates' ability to deal with the increasingly complex information requests received by Scottish public authorities."

The course runs over four days followed by online sessions and an exam. Candidates also have to submit two practical case studies. In drafting the course syllabus we have consulted the Office of the Scottish Information Commissioner and taken account of their comments and suggestions. We also have an independent exam board (chaired by Professor Dunion) consisting of FOI(S)A practitioners and renowned experts.

We are confident that the Act Now Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information (Scotland) will soon become the qualification of choice for FOI(S)A practitioners in Scotland. If you would like more information please click on the link below:

RIPA Policy and Procdures Toolkit


Major changes to the local authority surveillance regime (under RIPA) come into force tomorrow.

- Local authorities will need to obtain Magistrates' approval for all surveillance done under RIPA.
- Directed Surveillance will be subject to a new serious crime test

For detailed discussion on the changes please see our blog:

Now is the time to revise your RIPA polices and procedures and make your staff aware of the new rules.

I have developed a RIPA Policy and Procedures Toolkit to assist you. Why reinvent the wheel?
The toolkit includes an updated version of our previous RIPA Forms Guidance document, which was bought by over one hundred different organisations. In addition there are detailed guidance notes on deciding when surveillance is caught by RIPA, how to authorise it and what to do about surveillance which is not regulated by RIPA. The toolkit is written in straight forward language (avoiding legal jargon) and includes flowcharts to assist understanding (including the new Magistrates' approval process). For more information click on the link below:

There is a 20% discount for those who bought the previous RIPA Forms Guidance (now updated and part of this toolkit.)

1st November - D Day for Council surveillance

A number of changes were announced to local authority surveillance powers in the Summer:

From 1st November 2012

1. Local authorities will only be able to authorise Directed Surveillance under the RIPA where the Serious Crime Test is met (subject to exceptions):

More here:

2. All surveillance undertaken by local authorities  will have to be approved by a Magistrate:

More here:

Communications Data Bill

This will have an effect on local authorities' powers to acquire communications data currently under Part 1 Chapter 2 of RIPA:

More here:

Happy to answer questions on any of the above.

RIPA It Up and Start Again

At a time when the phone hacking scandal has shone a spotlight on the murky world of police and tabloid surveillance, the Government, through the Protection of Freedoms Bill, is choosing a soft target in local authorities rather than focusing on the real culprits.


The Bill is currently proceeding through the Committee Stage in the House of Lords. If passsed in its current form, it  will require local authorities to have all their surveillance authorisations under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) (Directed Surveillance, CHIS and the acquisition of Communications Data) approved by a magistrate before they take effect.


Most local authorities feel that this is a disproportionate response to inaccurate media stories about their “overzealous” use of RIPA. When the the Coalition Government published the Bill in February 2011, the Home Secretary, announced:


“The first duty of the state is the protection of its citizens, but this should never be an excuse for the government to intrude into peoples' private lives. Snooping on the contents of families' bins and security checking school-run mums are not necessary for public safety and this Bill will bring them to an end. I am bringing common sense back to public protection and freeing people to go about their daily lives without a fear that the state is monitoring them.”


The reality is that most authorities only use their powers in a handful of cases each year and only when there is no other viable means of investigating offences and then in a reasonable and proportionate manner.  The latest annual report by the Office of Surveillance Commissioners (2010/2011) states:


“Generally speaking, local authorities use RIPA/RIP(S)A powers sparingly with over 50% granting five or fewer directed surveillance authorisations during the reporting period. Some 16% granted none at all.”


By contrast, it seems that there is a much more convincing case for stronger regulation of media (especially the tabloids) and police surveillance. The setting up of the Leveson Inquiry and the inquiry by the House of Commons Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport meant that at first the primary concern was about allegations of phone hacking by the News of the World.  However it has now become clear that hacking phones was just one part of the unscrupulous journalist’s toolkit. It also included buying information from the police, blagging sensitive personal information from public and private sector organisations and the hacking politicians’ computers to gain access to  their e mails.


Allegations have also surfaced that that the police have been misusing their powers under RIPA to assist the tabloids to locate the whereabouts of celebrities and other persons of interest. Working with mobile phone companies, the police have the ability to pinpoint a phone by monitoring which signal masts it is using and triangulating its location. This involves the acquisition of “traffic data” under Chapter 2 of Part 1 of RIPA and has to be properly authorised in writing by a senior police officer. The technique is known as “pinging”. It is meant to be used in the most serious cases e.g. kidnap and murder cases to locate the whereabouts of victims and suspects. It is not designed to help journalists locate a celebrity or to track a premiership footballer “playing away from home.”


From the various media reports it seems that the police have a serious case to answer about RIPA misuse. Why were powers which were enacted to assist the police to investigate serious criminal offences being abused for commercial gain? Surely, if the reports are true, there is a stronger case for judicial approval of police RIPA communications data powers than those of local authorities who occasionally use them to obtain the identity of a rogue trader or fly tipper? It may be time to amend the Bill to include the police in the requirement to seek Magistrates’ approval?


At present Part 2 of RIPA (covert surveillance) only covers public authorities. The tabloids often use questionable covert surveillance tactics which are unregulated. In November 20011 the BBC reported that The News of the World hired an ex-police officer in 2010 to carry out surveillance on two prominent lawyers, Mark Lewis and Charlotte Harris, who were representing phone hacking victims. The investigator is reported to have filmed members of Mr Lewis's family, including his teenage daughter, on a shopping trip. These allegations were subsequently confirmed by both lawyers when giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry.


It’s fair to say that the tabloids, by doing covert surveillance, have had more of an impact on individuals’ privacy than local authorities. Currently there is no law, which comprehensively regulates these activities. Some may lead to trespass, harassment or a breach of the Data Protection Act 1998. The government would do more to protect peoples’ civil liberties by turning its attention to media surveillance than local authority surveillance, which is already properly regulated. There is now a very strong case for bringing the media within the scope of the RIPA regime. Local authorities should be let alone, without further regulation, to continue what they have, in the majority of cases, been doing in a necessary and proportionate manner.


We have a serious of courses on RIPA and Surveillance which also over the changes in the Protection of Freedoms Bill.

See also our RIPA Forms Guidance Document.

Empty Properties

Access to information about empty properties under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) has always been a controversial issue. On the one hand local authorities holding such information claim that if it is released such properties will be the target of squatters, criminal damage and drug taking. They claim the information is exempt under section 31 (disclosure would be likely to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime). On the other hand housing charities ( and those representing the homeless argue that it is unjust that there are thousands people living on the streets just next to properties which they could easily and cheaply occupy.

There have been a number of decisions over the years by the Information Commissioner and the First Tier Tribunal (Information Rights) (formerly the Information Tribunal) on the issue of whether such information is disclosable under FOI. In Mr C P England and London Borough of Bexley v Information Commissioner (10th May 2007), the Information Tribunal reviewed the decision of the Information Commissioner to order Bexley Council to disclose the details of all empty properties in its area, together with the reasons why the properties are empty, and who owns them. The Tribunal ruled that those properties owned by anyone other than individuals should be disclosed together with details of ownership. Whilst it accepted, contrary to the Commissioner’s view, that the section 31 exemption (crime prevention/detection) was engaged it ruled that the public interest in disclosure was greater. However details of properties owned by individuals should not be disclosed as it was personal data and so exempt under section 40. Disclosure of this information would be unfair to the individuals as their properties could be targeted by criminals and squatters.

A more recent decision by the Tribunal (Voyias v IC and LB Camden (EA/2011/0007) Decision EA20110007.pdf) ordered Camden Council to disclose, to a former member of the Advisory Service for Squatters, lists of empty properties meeting certain descriptions. He specifically excluded properties owned by individuals. The Tribunal found that, whilst the section 31 exemption was engaged, the public interest in bringing empty properties back into re use was paramount. The key passage of the judgement is set out below:

 “The Tribunal is satisfied that publication of this list would bring a proportion of the void properties back into use earlier than would otherwise be the case and that consequently this is a strong public interest factor in favour of disclosure… The Tribunal is satisfied that there is already a lively and informed debate in this area, but, recognises that specific examples provide colour and are important in increasing public understanding and local involvement. It puts the specific empty properties into the limelight, may be an added tool to incentivize owners to reuse their properties and would enable the general public to walk up to a ‘void’, and see for themselves what is going on, whether it is being worked on, or has been left in limbo”.

The Government is not happy. (see Housing Minister Grant Shapps’ condemnation of the judgment as a ‘squatter’s road map’  ). However the Tribunal has  recognised the unfairness of the current system and the need to inform a debate of importance especially in the current economic climate.

CCTV in Oxford Taxis

On Monday the Oxford Times reported that Oxford City Council plans to require all new taxis to have CCTV installed. Existing cabbies will have to have the £460 systems installed by March 2015 and two are currently in operation. All new taxis will need CCTV from April. The Council said the video and audio scheme was vital to provide evidence of attacks on drivers and in cases where there were allegations of driver misconduct.

Critics, including Big Brother Watch, have claimed that this brakes privacy rules. Nick Pickles , director of BBW, is quoted as saying that passengers would be “horrified” by the plan. He said: “ It is a disproportionate response to invade the privacy of everybody who uses their taxis.”

I do not think as the law stands the council is acting illegally per se. The Data Protection 1998 does not say CCTV cannot be installed in taxis. As in all cases where personal data is processed, it requires rules to be followed (8 principles). The main principle requires the data (i.e. CCTV images and recordings) to be processed fairly and lawfully. Without other specific laws which say it cannot be done and as long as drivers and passengers are told what is happening (with appropriate signs) I think they may be able to do it. The other point to note is that whilst the CCTV Code has to be taken into account by the Information Commissioner (the regulator) and the courts, it is not legally binding.

However there is another possible area of challenge.  What happens if a driver refuses to have the camera installed? Will it be a condition of issuing a taxi license? If so is this condition lawful within taxi licensing regulations etc? There is a possibility of judicial review here of the regulations or any decision to refuse a licence based on human rights principles (Article 8 - the right to privacy especially of the driver). As with all privacy issues much depends on necessity and proportionality? If the cameras can never be switched off, for example, even when a driver is off duty or ferrying his family around there may be issues. Watch this space!

RIPA: New Justice Report

JUSTICE, has today published a significant and wide-ranging critique of state surveillance powers contained in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA):

This is a very interesting and welcome report. I agree that RIPA needs a  root and branch reform. However it repeats a common misconception that RIPA is abused by local authorities. This myth is also the basis of the reforms set out in the Protection of Freedoms Bill which will severely curtail councils power to use RIPA. See my analysis and argument that the Bill is a sledgehammer to crack a nut:

Also will the reforms have the desired effect? See my post below

Changes to RIPA - Will they have the desired effect? (20th July 2011)

What's in a Name?

Ever received an FOI request from Justin Case, Barb Dwyer or Stan Still? How about  Barry Cade

or Carrie Oake? Was your thought process as follows? Obvious  pseudonym or fictitious name - read ICO Guidance -  not a valid FOI request - ask to confirm identity or refuse to deal.

You may well be following the Information Commissioner's Guidance (Valid request - name and address for correspondence ) which states:

"...the use of a false or fictitious name is not acceptable. Therefore, where a public authority receives a request from a person using an obvious pseudonym, there is no obligation to comply with the request;"

It goes on:

"In most cases, it will be reasonable for a real name to comprise a name by which the person making the request is widely known and/or is regularly used by that person and which is not an obvious pseudonym or fictitious name."

It seems the ICO is now backing authorities who ask for an FOI requester to prove his/her identity:

I do not agree with the ICO's approach.

Let's go back to basics. Section 8 of the FOI Act sets out the requirements of a valid FOI request. It has to "state the name of the applicant and an address for correspondence." I have always advised clients that a name is a just a name. It is wrong to focus too much an an applicant's given name. You may be assuming that it is a pseudonym or is fictitious. Can you be sure? Have you checked? Where?

The names in the first sentence are real names
uncovered by researchers from parenting group after trawling through online telephone records (source BBC website : Other unfortunate names they found include Pearl Button, Jo King, Priti Manek and Tim Burr.

A public authority cannot insist on a real or proper name as there is no such concept in English Law. A person can call themselves anything. They are not restricted to what is on their birth certificate. In any event many people change their name by deed poll to fit in with their life style or to emulate their favourite celebrity. If you get an FOI request signed "Amy Winehouse" or "Michael Jackson" are you going to reject it or ask for proof that the King and Queen of Pop have risen again? What about a  request from Facebookdotcom Forwardslash-Mountaindew UK . These are all real names. ( Honest! see )

There are 23 exemptions under FOI which can be relied upon if there is a problem in disclosing information. There is no need to look at (or ask) who is making the request (normally - I accept that in some cases FOI is not applicant blind).

My advice to public authorities is, if you get a request from Spiderman then treat it is a valid request and focus on whether an exemption applies. After all he is a goody! If a request is received from the Green Goblin then claim the law enforcement exemption!


UPDATE: I have found some interesting and real names (from those guardian of democracy) The Monster Raving Loony Party's 2010 election candidates list:

Step forward Mr Nick The Flying Brick Delves, Chinners Chinnery and Hairy Knorm Davidson


After Catgate, Foxgate we now have Dustbingate!

Government Minister, Oliver Letwin, has been seen throwing sensitive paperwork into bins, according to this morning's Daily Mirror (

The newspaper, which ran a picture of Letwin apparently about to drop papers into a bin while talking on a mobile phone, said they included correspondence on terrorism and national security as well as constituents' private details. It described his actions as a "security breach", but a spokesman for the minister insisted that the papers did not contain any sensitive material.

"Oliver Letwin does some of his parliamentary and constituency correspondence in the park before going to work, and sometimes disposes of copies of letters there," the spokesman said.
"They are not documents of a sensitive nature," he added.

Not of a sensitive nature! The documents may not bring down the government or expose the UK to a terrorist attack but they certainly should not have just been dumped in a bin for anyone to pick up. According to the Mirror the documents contained lots of personal information about Mr Letwin's constituents including:

-  correspondence  received from a concerned male constituent about Equitable Life which contains the constituent’s personal details

- details of a patient’s experience with the NHS

- other emails between Mr Letwin and his constituents

This information certainly falls within the definition of personal data under the Data Protection Act. Some of it may well be sensitive personal data (e.g. health information) which requires more care under the Act. So has Mr Letwin breached the Act. There is a strong case for saying he has breached the Seventh Data Protection Principle which states:

"Appropriate technical and organisational measures shall be taken against unauthorised or unlawful processing of personal data and against accidental loss or destruction of, or damage to, personal data."

So what can the Information Commissioner do if he chooses to investigate. He can issue various notices to ensure compliance including an Enforcement Notice requiring steps to be taken to avoid any recurrence in the future. If he thinks this breach is deliberate and serious (which I think it is) he can exercise his powers  to impose a Monetary Penalty Notice (of up to £500,000). He has used this power against a number of local authorities for less high profile breaches (including where a unencrypted laptop was stolen and where a fax was sent to the wrong number).

Of course if any of the individuals whose data has been dumped have suffered damage (or damage and distress) as a result, they could bring a civil action for compensation under section 13 of the Act.

What is a complicating factor is that some of the documents appear to be held by Letwin in his capacity as an MP whilst others in his capacity as a Minister. This allows the possibility of him being sued/prosecuted/fined in his personal capacity as well his department.

What will the Information Commissioner do? I suggest Mr Letwin books himself onto our data protection (A to Z Guide) training course or if he is too busy, one of our one hour online webinars:

Oh, and he must ensure he renews his notification which expires on 31st December 2011 (Z9233035). Failure to do so is a criminal offence!


For the latest news on DP and FOI see the Act Now Newsletter:

ISEB Exams - Top Tips

Are you sitting the forthcoming ISEB exams in data protection or freedom of information.
Here are our top tips:


Before the Exam

·      Read the syllabus

·      Read through your notes

·      Go through the exercises and case studies

·      Plan your revision effectively (don’t cram it into a few days before the exam)

·      Decide which sections you need to revise the most and allocate more time to them (Don’t forget to spend some time going over the stuff you know as well)

·      Make a revision timetable from Day 5 leading up to the exam - a total of …….days and stick to it!

·      Write it down/Test yourself

·      Do more questions in exam conditions - see your delegate pack

·      Learn all the key facts/flowcharts

ALSO - watch our ISEB Revision videos: 

During the Exam

·      Read the full exam front cover to back cover before starting

·      Make sure you spend your time correctly – consider the mark allocation and suggested timings

·      You do not have to do the exam in the order it is written

·      Work on the section you find the easiest first

·      In each section work on the question you find the easiest first (That way you hopefully will have more time at the end to work on the difficult questions)

·      Don’t forget to number the questions when answering (especially if you follow the above tips)!

·      Write clearly and legibly

·      Leave time at the end to check your answers (about 10 mins)

·      Read the question – Answer the question - If there is more than one part to a question make sure you have answered each part.

·      Section A is multiple choice (if you do not know – guess)

·      Do not look for/be put off by patterns in the answers in section A

·      Section B requires bullet points not essays (1 bullet = 1 mark)

·      Section C requires essays – at least three sides

·      Attempt every question

·      Write clearly and legibly

·      Do not over complicate things – get the key points across.

·      Make sure you finish

Do not panic – You know more than you think!

Once you pass (I am sure you will) you may want to give some thought to doing another ISEB.
We are running the DP and FOI in London and Manchester in November. Full details on our website:

AND FINALLY - relieve exam stress - watch the spoof FOI videos:


New Information Law Reports


Information Law Reports

Justis Publishing


Every month there are approximately forty decisions of the Information Commissioner and ten decisions of the First Tier Tribunal (Information Rights) (formerly the Information Tribunal) under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI). Information Law is not just about FOI though.  Other areas of law often intertwine with it including data protection, the Environmental Information Regulations, surveillance law and other statutory rights of access to information. It is often a struggle to keep up to date with new cases and latest developments. 


11KBW (barristers), in conjunction with Justis Publishing, have just launched the UK’s only Information Law Reports service. This provides the first and only systematic repository of full reports covering information law cases from 2001 onwards in all courts and tribunals including the First Tier Tribunal, the Upper Tribunal, the High Court and the higher appellate courts, as well as relevant cases from other specialist tribunals. The reports are edited by Timothy Pitt-Payne QC, Anya Proops, and Robin Hopkins who are members of 11KBW’s Information Law Practice Group. Most notable cases in the last five years have involved Mr Pitt Payne’s team.


The service is very easy to use and does not require any technical know how. The reports are searchable through the full text of each case, parties, subject or headnote. All the subscriber has to do is type a keyword or words and the database does the rest. Searches can also be combined with other Justis law reports series (separately subscribed). Results also bring up the related articles on cases, although a separate subscription is required to read these. The reports will be indexed on Justis’s sister service, the provider-neutral JustCite citator and search engine. They can be saved as a pdf or downloaded and printed off.  A printed volume is also published annually.


On the whole, I think this is an excellent resource. I would certainly recommend it to lawyers and practitioners who need to produce detailed advice and need ready access to the latest cases.


The price of the service depends on the platform used and the number of users in an organisation. Justis are happy to provide prices on application, starting at £700 per annum, with the bound volume set at £200. In a time of financial constraints though, when most authorities are looking to reduce their library expenditure, this may be a luxury that those interested may find difficult to justify to budget holders. This is especially so when there are lots of free resources out there. For example the excellent Panopticon Blog (, also produced by 11KBW, and my own FOI podcast series( Having said that, if you have the budget, I would say that, rather than buying books and journals which go out of date quickly, this product is much better value.


The free trial is well worth taking up before a decision is made. If you decide to subscribe Justis are offering a 10% discount on the annual electronic subscription rate to Act Now newsletter readers. Please mention Act Now Training when getting in touch with them. Contact details below:

Tel: +44 (0)20 7284 8080


Changes to RIPA - Will they have the desired effect?

As I explained in my recent article the Protection of Freedoms Bill (, currently going through Parliament, aims to amend the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) so that local authorities will soon only be able to authorise Directed Surveillance where they are tackling "serious crime" i.e. an offence which carries a term of imprisonment of six months or more.

The Government says this will stop local authorities doing directed surveillance for tackling "minor offences" such as dog fouling and littering.

But will it?

The Government has forgotten to do any thing about section 80 of RIPA which says that RIPA is permissive legislation. This point was explained more fully by the Investogatory Powers Tribunal in the case of C v The Police (Case No: IPT/03/32/H 14th November 2006

  “Although RIPA provides a framework for obtaining internal authorisations of directed surveillance (and other forms of surveillance), there is no general prohibition in RIPA against conducting directed surveillance without RIPA  authorisation. RIPA does not require prior authorisation to be obtained by a public authority in order to carry out surveillance. Lack of authorisation under RIPA does not necessarily mean that the carrying out of directed surveillance is unlawful.”

This means that the changes in the Protection of Freedoms Bill will not make surveillance for dog fouling and littering unlawful. All it will mean is that such surveillance will not have the protection of RIPA (the defence in section 27). Local authoroties will still be able to do it as long as it is neccessary and proportionate in accordance with Article 8 (ECHR).

This point is made by the Office of Surveillance Commissioners (OSC) in its latest report (2010/2011):

"The higher threshold in the proposed legislation will reduce the number of cases in which local authorities have the protection of RIPA when conducting covert surveillance; it will not prevent the use of those tactics in cases where the threshold is not reached but where it may be necessary and proportionate to obtain evidence covertly and there will be no RIPA audit trail. Part I of RIPA makes unauthorised interception unlawful. In contrast, Part II makes authorised surveillance lawful but does not make unauthorised surveillance unlawful."

The proposed changes to RIPA will not, as is intended, curtail the powers of local authorities to do surveillance. They will still be able to do it for "minor offences" but without the protection of RIPA. Crucially though the OSC will not be able to oversee such surveillance as it falls outside the scope of RIPA. This actually weakens the safeguards against abuses of surveillance powers.

I would welcome colleagues' thoughts on this reasoning.

I am doing a web seminar this lunchtime (12pm) on the Bill and its changes to FOI, RIPA and CCTV laws:

FOI and Datasets

The Government also announced in January that FOI would be amended to ensure public authorities proactively release data in a way that allows businesses, non-profit organisations and others to re-use the information for social and commercial purposes. This was not welcome news for many local authorities who feel that they are inundated with requests from the private sector where they are effectively asked to do research for them or to supply information which is then sold on to other public authorities.

These proposals will be given legislative force through the Protection of Freedoms Bill which is currently going through Parliament. Clause 92 of the Bill will amend section 11 of FOI (means by which communication to be made). At present section 11 allows a requestor to choose the format of the information to be supplied to him. As long as this is reasonably practical the public authority must give effect to his preference.

In future where a request is made for information held by the public authority that is a dataset, or which forms part of a dataset, and the applicant requests that information be communicated in an electronic form, then the public authority must, as far as is reasonably practicable, provide the information to the applicant in an electronic form that is capable of re-use. This is in a machine-readable form using open standards which enables its re-use and manipulation. Thus, in future, authorities will be prevented from turning an Excel spreadsheet into a PDF before releasing it in order to stop recipients conducting their own analysis or re formatting of the data. This has been known to happen especially to requests from commercial companies!


What is a Dataset?


A dataset is a collection of information held in electronic form where all or most of the information meets the criteria set out in the following paragraphs (of the new section 11(5) of FOI):


- It has to have been obtained or recorded by a public authority for the purpose of providing the authority with information in connection with the provision of a service by that authority or the carrying out of any other function of the authority


- The information is factual in nature and (a) is not the product of interpretation or analysis other than calculation, in other words that it is the ‘raw’ or ‘source’ data; and (b) provides that it is not an official statistic within the meaning given by the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 (“SRSA 2007”). Official statistics have been excluded from the definition of datasets as the production and publication of official statistics is provided for separately in the SRSA 2007.


- The information within the dataset has not been materially altered since it was obtained or recorded. Datasets which have had ‘value’ added to them or which have been materially altered, for example in the form of analysis, representation or application of other expertise, would not fall within the definition.


Examples of the types of datasets which meet the definition include postcodes and references used to identify properties; spend data and information about job roles in a public authority.


Exceptions to the Duty


There is no absolute duty for datasets to be provided in a re-useable format as it is recognised that, in some instances, there may be practical difficulties in relation to costs and IT to convert the format of the information.  New section 11A(1) provides for the four criteria which must be met for the new section to apply:


(a) that a person must have made a request for a dataset


(b) that the dataset requested includes a ‘relevant copyright work’


(c) that the public authority is the only owner of the ‘relevant copyright work’, in other words that it is not jointly owned with another party or that it is not owned in whole or in part by a third party; and


(d) that the public authority is communicating the relevant copyright work to the requester under the FOI, in other words that the dataset requested is not being withheld under one of the exemptions provided for in the FOI.


New section 11A(2) provides that when communicating such a dataset to an applicant, the public authority must make the dataset available for re-use in accordance with the terms of a specified license. The terms of such a licenses will be specified in a new section 45 Code of Practice. It is not know at present whether such licenses will allow public authorities to charge for re use.


Proactive Publication


The Bill also requires public authorities to pro actively publish datasets.


Under new section 19(2A) of FOI (to be insert by the Bill), publication schemes must include a requirement for the public authority to publish any dataset it holds, which is requested by an applicant, and any updated version of a dataset, unless the authority is satisfied that it is not appropriate for the dataset to be so published.


All datasets published in this way will have to be in an electronic form which is capable of re-use and it also requires public authorities to make any relevant copyright work (if the authority is the only owner) available for re-use in accordance with the terms of the specified licence (as above)


Subsection (5) of clause 92 amends section 45 of the FOIA (issue of code of practice) to insert a new requirement for the code of practice to include provision relating to the disclosure by public authorities of datasets held by them. Paragraph (b) sets out the different provisions relating to the re-use and disclosure of datasets that may, in particular, be included in the code. Paragraph (c) amends section 45(3) of the FOIA so as to provide for the possibility of making more than one code of practice under section 45, each of which makes different provision for different public authorities.


These new requirements will no doubt mean more work for public authorities at a time when resources are scarce and staff are being reduced. There will be a   new code of practice to get to grips with as well as a new publication scheme to adopt or produce. It will be interesting to see the terms of the “specified license” and to what extent if at all public authorities will be able to make a profit from allowing re use of datasets.

I will be discussing these and other FOI developments in my forthcoming FOI workshops:

FOI Update - London 30th March

FOI and Commercial Interests - 19th April Belfast


Freedoms Bill: Local Authority Surveillance (2) Serious Crime Test

On 26th January 2011 the Home Office published its long awaited review of counter-terrorism and security powers.  The recommended changes, which have been endorsed by Lord McDonald, will be implemented via amendments to RIPA as set out in the Protection Freedoms Bill which is currently going through Parliament:


The Home Office Review recommended that where local authorities wish to use RIPA to authorise Directed Surveillance, this should be confined to cases where the offence under investigation carries a custodial sentence of six months or more.  This recommendation is to be put into effect by an order made under RIPA itself (section 30(3)(b) of RIPA).


The Home Office says that the threshold test will mean “minor offences” will not be the subject of surveillance any more. But what is a minor offence? Dog fouling and littering may not seem as serious as benefit fraud but these offences are the subject of thousands of complaints to local authorities up and down the country. Furthermore the health consequences of such offences mean that whilst they may not be top priority for government ministers living in their tidy streets and enjoying well-kept open spaces they blight the lives of ordinary people.


There is an exception to this general rule though. The Review recommends that because of the importance of Directed Surveillance in corroborating investigations into underage sales of alcohol and tobacco, the Government should not seek to apply the threshold in these cases. This concession is a direct result of lobbying by the Local Government Association ( ) and will be welcome news to trading standards officers.


Many local authorities will feel that the changes to RIPA in this Bill are more about the Coalition Government wanting to be seen to take a tough stance on civil liberties rather than well placed concern about the misuse of RIPA powers. Most authorities only use the RIPA powers in a handful of cases each year when there is no other viable means of investigating offences and then in a reasonable and proportionate manner (See the recent report about Kirklees Council


The changes to the RIPA regime set out in the Protection of Freedoms Bill will have a profound impact on local authority investigators especially in Trading Standards, Environmental Health, Benefit Fraud and Licensing teams. The added scrutiny of authorisation forms by magistrates will require staff training and guidance on completing such forms correctly.

This is an extract of a longer paper written by Ibrahim Hasan. It is available by e mailing:

RIPA FORMS MANUAL: Ibrahim Hasan also written a detailed manual on how to complete RIPA forms with detailed guidance notes:

Freedoms Bill:Local Authority Surveillance (1) Magistrate Approval

On 11th February 2011 the Coalition Government published the long awaited Protection of Freedoms Bill. It contains radical proposals to restrict local authorities' powers to conduct surveillance under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA).

Clauses 37 and 38 of the Bill amends RIPA so as to require local authorities to obtain the approval of a magistrate for the use of any one of the three covert investigatory techniques available to them; the acquisition of communications data, the use of directed surveillance and the deployment covert human intelligence sources ("CHIS").  An approval is also required if an authorisation to use such techniques is being renewed.

The new provisions make it clear that the authorising officer is not required to apply in person and there is no need to give notice to either the subject of the authorisation or their legal representatives (Section 23B (2) and 32B(2)). This reflects the covert nature of the exercise of the investigatory powers under RIPA.

Is it really practical for local authorities to make an application to a magistrate each time they wish to follow a rogue trader or do a mobile phone subscriber check? The Home Office, in its impact assessment, states that each application will take twenty minutes to hear. No doubt a much longer time will be needed to prepare the application. Furthermore will the courts be staffed to hear urgent or time critical applications?  The new codes of practice accompanying these changes will tell us precisely how the approval process will work.

The role of the magistrate is to ensure that the correct procedures have been followed and the appropriate matters have been taken account of. The new provisions allow the magistrate, on refusing an approval of an authorisation, to quash that authorisation. With many courts closing, yet the work of magistrates increasing, there is a fear that they will not understand the legislation fully and will revert to merely rubber stamping authorisation applications.

Is an extra layer of scrutiny actually needed? The Chief Surveillance Commissioner is responsible for overseeing local authorities’ use of directed surveillance and CHIS, whilst the Interception of Communications Commissioner has similar responsibilities in respect of local authorities’ acquisition of communications data. The Investigatory Powers Tribunal, established under section 65 of RIPA, investigates complaints about anything that a complainant believes has taken place against them, their property or communications which is regulated by RIPA. Some local authority officers may say these proposals just add an extra layer of bureaucracy; from a government which wants to cut red tape!

This is an extract of a longer paper written by Ibrahim Hasan. It is available by e mailing:

RIPA FORMS MANUAL: Ibrahim Hasan also written a detailed manual on how to complete RIPA forms with detailed guidance notes:

Local Authority Surveillance Powers : All Change

Today (26th Jan 2011) the Home Office published its long awaited review of counter-terrorism and security powers.  The main documents can be found on the Home Office website:

Amongst all the headlines and controversy about control orders, it is easy to miss the proposed changes  to local authorities' powers to carry out surveillance under  RIPA. The key changes recommended by the review are:

i.    Magistrates approval should be required for local authority use of Directed Surveillance, the deployment of a CHIS  and the acquisition of communications data. This should be in addition to the authorisation needed now from a local authority senior manager (at least Director level) and the more general oversight by elected councilors.

ii.    Serious Offence Test: Use of RIPA to authorise Directed Surveillance only should be confined to cases where the offence under investigation carries a custodial sentence of 6 months or more. But because of the importance of Directed Surveillance in corroborating investigations into underage sales of alcohol and tobacco, the Government should not seek to apply the threshold in these cases. The threshold should not be applied to the two other techniques (Communications Data and CHIS) because of their more limited use and importance in specific types of investigation which do not attract a custodial sentence.

iii. The power to acquire communications data under part 1 Chapter 2 of RIPA should be the only mechanism through which such data is acquired. In effect all other powers should be repealed.

The timescale for enacting these changes has yet to be published. What is sure is that they will have a profound impact on local authority investigators especially in Trading Standards, Environmental Health, Benefit Fraud and Licensing.

RIPA UPDATE WORKSHOPS - London, Bristol and Manchester - £265 plus vat

Our next RIPA workshops will examine these proposals in details and help you prepare for them.

More Details:


Ibrahim Hasan

Andy Gray/Sky Sports Saga

Sky has now sacked Andy Gray for his comments about a female referee which were made off air (when he and his colleague thought that the mic was off). Here is the link to the full story from the BBC:

I am just thinking aloud about the privacy/data protection angle here. Having first warned Gray, today Sky sacked him it seems due to another incident being uncovered. See quote below from the BBC story:
"However, new footage emerged on Monday of Gray talking off-air with Sky Sports' pitchside reporter Andy Burton about Massey.

Sky News reported that the pair discussed Massey's appearance, with Burton referring to Massey as "a bit of a looker" while Gray asks: "What do women know about the offside rule?""

I have many questions in my head:

Who unearthed this new evidence? If it was Sky (the employer) do they have a right to broadcast it and  make it available to the rest of the media. What about privacy and the DPA? Does an employee not have a right to privacy in respect of disciplinary allegations and evidence against him? I know that the First Tier Tribunal in FOI cases has consistently ruled that employees have a right to privacy in respect of such information. Is there a difference, in DPA and privacy terms, between Sky the employer (or service commissioner if Gray was self employed) and Sky the broadcaster?

You can see the evidence new and old here:

Would be interested to hear colleagues' views.


Ibrahim Hasan
Solicitor and Director
Act Now Training Limited

Changes to RIPA

It seems that the changes to RIPA for councils will be announced in the Freedom Bill to be published next month according to Nick Clegg's speech today:

Note what he says in the middle of the speech:

"By next month we will be putting forward a freedom bill: legislation that will bring together a number of measures, for example to better regulate CCTV; to properly control the way councils use surveillance powers; to limit the powers of state inspectors to enter into your house; and to end the indefinite storage of innocent people's DNA"

To me this means that there will no longer be a power to self authorise surveillance. See my article on the RIPA Review and what to expect:

I hope this allows you to plan ahead in terms of training and awareness. Let me know if I can help.

Don't forget my RIPA forms Guidance document is still available to buy:

This weeks FOI Update webcast

On Thursday (23rd December at 11am) I am doing a webcast on Freedom of Information. I will be covering:

• The Transparency Review
• The Court of Appeal decision on Section 15 Audit Commission Act 1998
• The ICO Monitoring List
• Academy Schools and FOI
• When Is Information Held?
• Fees and Searching Obligations
• The latest Tribunal decisions on Section 40(2) - disclosure of personal data
• Section 43 and disclosure of contracts

Attendance is free. More details and registration on our website:


Ibrahim Hasan
Act Now Training Limited

Working From Home


If you are working from home (or experiencing a quiet day at work) now is the perfect time to get some training done for free.

You can view one of the many webcasts available for free on our website. Topics include:

  • The New Data Sharing Consultation
  • Multi Agency Information Sharing
  • Data Protection Update
  • Freedom of Information Update
  • The new RIPA Codes
  • The Poole Council RIPA decision

Please see our webcast page for more:

Feel free to pass this e mail onto other colleagues who may be working from home or interested in these topics.


Ibrahim Hasan

Act Now Training

Fax Awareness Poster


Following the Information Commissioner's fine of £100,000 upon Hertfordshire County County Council, now is the perfect time to raise awareness of the dangers of using the fax machine to send sensitive personal data.

You will know that the the breaches at Hertfordshire occurred , when employees in the childcare litigation unit accidentally sent two faxes to the wrong recipients on two separate occasions. The first misdirected fax was meant for a barristers' chambers but was sent instead to a member of the public.The second misdirected fax, sent 13 days later, contained information relating to the care proceedings of three children, the previous convictions of two individuals, domestic violence records and care professionals' opinions on the cases.The fax was intended for Watford County Court but was mistakenly sent to a barristers' chambers unconnected with the case.

To help you raise awareness of the need for special care when using the fax machine, Act Now Training has designed an A3 colour poster which can be put up next to every fax machine. This will prompt staff to think carefully about what they are doing and to check they have the right number.

We are giving away (free of charge) up to ten posters per organisation. If you would like to place an order please use the contact form on our website to send us your postal details. Don't forget to state how many posters you would like (up to 10):

Please feel free to pass this e mail on to interested colleagues in other departments.


Ibrahim Hasan
Solicitor and Director
Act Now Training Limited

Follow us on Twitter:

Vetting Scheme Ruled Unlawful

The High Court has ruled that vetting and barring legislation for people working with children and vulnerable adults breaches human rights law.

Under the legislation, the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) keeps lists of people who are barred from working with children or vulnerable adults. Once barred, the restrictions on work last from a minimum of one to a maximum of ten years.

But last week the High Court ruled that automatically banning those convicted of, or admitting to, crimes with children and vulnerable adults, without allowing them to make representations breached their rights to a fair trial.

The case involved four nurses, two of whom had received police cautions for leaving their children at home alone.   READ MORE BELOW:

ICO Issues First Fines

The Information Commissioner has today issued his first fines under new powers that came into force in April.

Hertfordshire County Council, which faxed details of a child sex abuse case to a member of the public, is to be fined £100,000 for breaching the Data Protection Act.

Sheffield-based A4e was fined £60,000 for losing an unencrypted laptop with the details of thousands of people.

The Commissioner said the fines - the first he has issued - would "send a strong message" to those handling data.

Now is the time to assess your data protection practices and procedures. All departments must do this. Note that the Hertfordshire breaches emanated from the legal department!

Act Now can help with data protection and information security training, advice (helplines) and compliance audits. Please see our website for details.

Full Details:  or ring us on 01924 451054.

Follow us on Twitter:

Data Sharing Code

In October, the Information Commissioner’s Office launched a consultation on a new statutory code of practice on the sharing of personal data. The draft code sets out a model of good practice for public, private and third sector organisations, and covers routine data sharing as well as one- off instances where a decision is made to release data to a third party.

In my next webcast on (Monday 29th November 11am), I will examine this code in detail and the key issues to be considered when responding to the consultation.

The webcast is free. If you are interested please follow the link below:

DP Update Article


Ibrahim Hasan's Data Protection update article has just been published in the Local Government Lawyer magazine  : 

In it he considers, amongst other things, the data sharing code, covert surveillance and changes to the Vetting and Barring Scheme.

You can also download the article from our website:

New OSC RIPA Document


The Office of the Surveillance Commissioner has revised its popular procedures and guidance document.

This contains the OSC's views on various issues and common questions which arise when public authorities carry out Directed Surveillance, Intrusive Surveillance and deploy a CHIS.

If the previous version is anything to go by then it will be an invaluable tool for RIPA users and authorisers. The OSC have sent it to each RIPA authority's Senior Responsible Officer. If you have not seen it yet ask your SRO.

I am doing a RIPA Update workshop in London and Manchester in November when I will be looking at all the latest news in this area including the RIPA Review and the IPT Poole Council decision. Full details are on our website:


Ibrahim Hasan

Act Now Training

RIPA Forms Guidance (Version 3)


Have you recently undergone an Office of the Surveillance Commissioner (OSC) RIPA inspection?

If so, you will know that the OSC places a lot of emphasis on correct form filling. Many local authority investigating and authorising officers have been criticised for not including enough detail in RIPA forms and not fully explaining their considerations about necessity, proportionality and collateral intrusion. The recent IPT decision involving Poole Council also emphasised this lack of knowledge.

I have developed a detailed guidance document specifically tailored to the needs of local authorities. It consists of each form reproduced with detailed notes on how to complete each section. Over one hundred different organisations have so far taken advantage of this unique resource. At a time of increasing pressure on local authority budgets, the RIPA Forms Guidance Document will save you time and money.

Version 3 of the Guidance has been fully revised in the light of the new RIPA Order and Codes of Practice, which came into force on 6th April 2010. The Home Office forms still make reference to the old codes. Our forms are reproduced with references to the new codes.

To download a free evaluation copy please see our website:

DISCOUNT - There is a 33% discount if you have bought a previous version of the guidance.


Ibrahim Hasan

Act Now Training

New DP Article

I have just done a new article on the latest developments in the world of data protection. You can read it on our website:

You can still watch my webcast on this topic:

What Do They Know . COM

Can a local authority refuse to deal with FOI requests made through the What Do They Know website? In this article I look at this issue and other recent developments in freedom of information:

Adv - We still have two places left on our ISEB FOI Certificate course starting in Manchester on 18th November 2010:


Ibrahim Hasan

Act Now Training

Follow us on Twitter/Read the Information Law Daily

The Information Law Daily


On a day with much bad news here is a bit of good news :

We have just launched The Information Law Daily. This is our Twitter newspaper containing the latest stories and developments (via Twitter) from the world of privacy, data protection, freedom of information and surveillance.

The newspaper is updated daily and is completely free so there is no impact on your budget!

George Osborne will be proud!

Happy reading.

Ibrahim Hasan

Act Now Training

Civil Servants' Salaries Again

The salaries of thousands of civil servants working in government departments have been revealed for the first time. Individuals earning more than £82,900 have been named.

Until now, only senior civil servants earning more than £150,000 had their salaries published. The government, which has published the data on its website, has also unveiled detailed "organograms" showing how departments are structured.

See also the following articles on our website:

The Government's Information Law Proposals
Access to Staff Data

Ibrahim Hasan
Act Now Training

Poole Council Decision (2)

My article on the Poole Council decision under RIPA has been published in today's Law Society Gazette:

We will also be examining this decision in detail in our forthcoming RIPA Update workshops in London, Edinburgh, Manchester and Bristol:

Local Government Transparency Guidance Publsihed

The government has pledged greater transparency across the public sector through publishing data to strengthen accountability to citizens. Government has committed to publishing certain information on salaries, spending and contracts by January 2011.

The Local Government Group in collaboration with the Local Public Data Panel is publishing a set of guides to offer practical help to meet both immediate targets of publishing data, and to adopt approaches that will add most value for local people and public services over the longer term.

There are two documents available to download:

1. Publishing senior salary information
2. Publishing local spending data

This is a rapidly evolving and innovative agenda, so the guides are not static, mandatory requirements but rather they are ‘live’ documents that are open for you to comment on and offer the benefits of your experience.

Ibrahim Hasan

ADV - I am doing a workshop on FOI, contracts and commercial confidentiality at the end of November in Manchester :

Personal Details in Toilet

Would you Adam and Eve it?

Belfast City Council has apologised after a sensitive document was used as a sign in a public toilet at one of its cemeteries.

A healthcare worker, who did not wish to be identified, handed over the document to the Belfast Telegraph after finding it taped to a wall in a loo at Roselawn Cemetery, where City of Belfast Crematorium is situated.

The file was a cremation order for Mr James Renwick, whose funeral service took place in June 2009. Mr Renwick’s wife Hannah said she was appalled at the |blunder.

Ibrahim Hasan

Adv- Information Security Update course - 23rd November - London

End of the Solicitors CPD Year

Dear Colleagues

As the end of the solicitors' CPD year is in sight (31st October 2010) we though we should remind you of the FREE WAYS you can obtain CPD credits with Act Now Training:


This is the only FOI podcast of its kind in the UK and has been mentioned in the Times newspaper and numerous other blogs. In each episode Ibrahim Hasan discusses the latest FOI decisions from the Information Commissioner and the Tribunal. The latest episode covers the four months ending August 2010. You can listen and download previous podcast scripts:


We run regular free and interactive webcasts on the latest developments in information and surveillance law. On our website you can find webcasts on the new RIPA Codes, the Poole decision, information sharing, FOI and much more:

You can claim half a CPD point by watching or listening to each webcast/podcast.

If you need more points you can always attend one of our October workshops (£265 plus vat) :

13th Oct 2010 - FOI: Latest Decisions & the Public Interest Test: London
14th Oct 2010 - The Law of Multi Agency Information Sharing : Bristol
19th Oct 2010 - Data Protection: An A-Z Guide : Belfast
20th Oct 2010 - Freedom of Information: From A-Z : Belfast
21st Oct 2010 - The Law of Multi Agency Information Sharing: London
28th Oct 2010 - Covert Surveillance and RIPA Update : Belfast

More details and booking:

If Act Now can assist with any of your in house training needs please get in touch.


Ibrahim Hasan
Act Now Training Limited

Follow me on Twitter @ActNowTraining

CCTV Website

A website which pays the public to monitor live commercial CCTV footage online is due to be launched in Devon.

Internet Eyes will pay up to £1,000 to subscribers who regularly report suspicious activity such as shoplifting.

Ibrahim Hasan

Act Now Training

FOI Podcast No: 23

Episode 23 of the UK’s only Freedom of Information podcast has just been published:

This covers FOI decisions of the Information Commissioner and the First Tier Tribunal (Information Rights) in the four months from May to August 2010 including decisions on :

• Vexatious requests
• Costs of compliance
• Information in Publication Schemes
• Requests made through What Do They Know .com
• Draft reports and the section 22 exemption
• Disclosure of Surveillance Commissioner reports
• The section 36 exemption
• The latest thinking on the personal data exemption
• AND disclosure of PFI Financial models

We still have some places on our ISEB Certificate in Freedom of Information Course starting In Manchester on 18th November:

CCTV in Birmingham - Part 3

A secret police operation to place thousands of Muslims living in Birmingham under permanent surveillance was implemented with virtually no consultation, oversight or regard for the law, a report found today.

Project Champion was abandoned in June after an investigation by the Guardian revealed police had misled residents into believing that hundreds of counter-terrorism cameras installed in streets around Sparkbrook and Washwood Heath were to be used to combat vehicle crime and antisocial behaviour.

In fact, the £3m project was being run from the West Midlands police counter-terrorism unit with the consent of security officials at the Home Office and MI5.

Some of the criticisms was that not enough thought had been given to RIPA and the need for authorisations under Part 2.

ISEB FOI Course in Manchester

Just a quick reminder about our forthcoming course in Manchester (starting 18th November) leading to the ISEB Certificate in Freedom of Information. This is an internationally recognised qualification and is very popular amongst information professionals in the public sector. It is often a preferred qualification for those advertising information governance vacancies.

Our pass rate stands at 92%. This compares very well with other providers of 64% (July 2009-July 2010). One of our candidates achieved the only distinction in the last exam (July 2010).

Please see our website for more details and testimonials:

I am the course director and tutor. If you would like to discuss any aspects of the course please contact me directly on 01924 451054.

Ibrahim Hasan
Act Now Training

EU DP Cases - Bavarian Lager and TG

Two recent cases in the EU’s highest court, the European Court of Justice (ECJ), Bavarian Lager (C-28/08 P) and Technische Glaswerke Ilmenau (C-139/07 P) have sparked controversy and debate concerning transparency and access to documents.

Ciaran Ward, Information Officer for Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, has done an article for us which you can read on our website:

This and other latest DP cases will be covered in our forthcoming DP Update workshops:

BMA Security Warning

The British Medical Association in Scotland has today called for tougher safeguards to protect the confidentiality of electronic patient records. It comes as members of the Scottish Parliament prepare to debate a report of the Health Committee on Clinical Portal Technology and Telehealth.

The BMA says that patient information accessible through clinical portals may be available outside the NHS, possibly to those viewing child protection systems.

Public Sector Pay

9,000 in public sector get more pay than prime minister David Cameron. The prime minister currently earns £142,500.

New research conducted for BBC Panorama found that there were more than 38,000 public employees earning above £100,000 and 1,000 people on more than £200,000.

Please see Lawrence's article in our latest newsletter on comparing public sector pay with that of the Prime Minister:

July 2010 ISEB FOI Results

Dear Colleagues

Just a quick e mail to let you know that we have just received the results of the ISEB Freedom of Information exam which our delegates sat in July 2010.

We had a total of 16 candidates sit the exam in London and Edinburgh. We are pleased to report that all bar one passed the exam and have received the ISEB Certificate in Freedom of Information. This is an internationally recognised qualification.

We are particularly pleased with these results because for the first time:

- One of our candidates achieved a distinction

- we ran a course in Edinburgh in which all candidates passed the exam

92%  of our candidates have now passed the FOI exam. This compares very well with other providers:

Our next FOI course starts on November 18th in Manchester. We still have a few places left so please feel free to get in touch:

Ibrahim Hasan
Act Now Training

webcast recording

Just in case you missed yesterday's webcast on the latest decisions on the Freedom of Information Act, you can watch the recording for free at:

Lawyers can claim half a CPD point.

I will be doing a full day workshop on this topic on 6th October in Manchester and 13th October in London.

Full details:

CCTV on Residential Property

Christian Lord was living with his girlfriend in Harraby, Carlisle, when he became aware of a CCTV camera installed in the empty house opposite, trained on his bedroom. Fed up of the surveillance, which was also exacerbating his girlfriend's mental health problems, Mr Lord broke into the empty house and threw the camera in a nearby river.

Yesterday, the 35-year-old pleaded guilty at Carlisle Crown Court to a charge of burglary and the theft of the £1,500-worth of surveillance equipment.

 Judge Peter Hughes QC, who said he was "puzzled" by who installed the camera.

“Under what authority was it done?” he asked. “There are human rights considerations here.”

Judge Hughes told Lord that if the device had been installed by the police as part of a criminal investigation the offence would have been much more serious. “But that is not the situation I have to deal with,” he said. “It is unclear why and on what basis this camera was installed.

“But plainly you and your partner were aware of its presence watching your activities and you took exception to it. While in no way can I condone your actions, this is far removed from a typical case of burglary. It seems you did it just to stop yourself being snooped upon.”

Full story:

There is a gap in the legislation around domestic CCTV. It is normally not covered by the DPA (section 36 domestic exemption applies) and private householders are not subject to RIPA.

Perhaps the government will pick up on this during its review of the law around CCTV and also on covert surveillance (part 2 of RIPA)?

Read my article on the Government's Information Law proposals:

I am doing a RIPA Update workshop soon where I will cover the RIPA review :

CCTV In schools

York Press:half of York’s secondary schools have been filming pupils on CCTV without telling parents.

Next FOI Update Webcast


My next FOI Update Webcast will be this Thursday (16th September 2010) at 11am.

I will be discussing the latest FOI decisions from the Commissioner and the Tribunal. There is still time to register at:

Lawyers can claim half a CPD point and its free.


Ibrahim Hasan

E Mail Monitoring Workshop


Just a quick reminder about our forthcoming workshop  on:

Email and Internet Monitoring: How to Do it Lawfully

5th October: Manchester

Full Details:

Monitoring and recording of employees’ email, internet and telephone usage (with or without consent) is a legal minefield. This workshop provides a thorough examination of the law and practice in this area. We will look in detail at Part 1 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) as well as the Lawful Business Practice Regulations, the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Data Protection Act 1998 (and related codes of practice).

This is an interactive workshop full of exercises and case studies. As well as the latest caselaw we will discuss the possibility of using written policies and procedures to guard against the legal problems and what to include in them. This workshop is a must for all employment lawyers, auditors and personnel advisers, whether in the public or the private sector, who are often called upon to advise on these issues.

Please feel free to give me a ring to discuss further on 07808 079264


Ibrahim Hasan

Act Now Training Limited

FOI to be extended again

The government is considering carefully whether to extend the Freedom of Information Act to additional bodies, a minister has confirmed.

Speaking on the BBC’s You and Yours, Lord McNally said: “The government is committed to increasing transparency, including extending the scope of the Freedom of Information Act.

“We are carefully considering the different ways of achieving this aim, including looking at the extension of the Act to additional bodies. Any extension of the FOI Act will need to take into account of the burdens that this would place on the bodies to be covered.”

We still have places left on our ISEB FOI course which starts in November in Manchester:

Ibrahim Hasan

Act Now

Courses in October

Dear Colleagues

Please find below details of our courses in early October 2010. All are in city centre hotels. The cost is £265 plus vat which includes course materials, refreshments and lunch.

You can book online or by phone on 01924 451054.

Email and Internet Monitoring - 5th October - Manchester

Monitoring and recording of employees’ email, internet and telephone usage (with or without consent) is a legal minefield. This workshop provides a thorough examination of the law and practice in this area. We will look in detail at Part 1 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) as well as the Lawful Business Practice Regulations, the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Data Protection Act 1998 (and related codes of practice).


Handling Requests for Personal Data - 5th October - London

Requests for access to personal data held by public sector organisations are on the increase. Whether they are Data Protection Subject Access Requests or requests for access to third party personal data, this workshop will shed light on the law and best practice in this complex area. The impact of the Freedom of Information Act and the Data Protection Act will be considered, as well as individuals’ right to privacy under Human Rights legislation. The latest caselaw and  Information Commissioner and Tribunal/Court of Session decisions will be explained. Delegates will also discuss sector specific case studies and practice the drafting of responses to requests.


FOI: Latest Decisions and the Public Interest Test - 6th October - Manchester

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI), every month there are around twenty decisions published by the Information Commissioner and five by the Information Tribunal. It is essential that all FOI practitioners keep up to date with these and other developments. This workshop examines all the latest FOI decisions and guidance and applies them to real life scenarios. It is packed full of case studies designed to teach delegates the key factors to be considered when making decisions about FOI exemptions and the Public Interest Test. Time will also be devoted to practicing the drafting of Refusal Notices, a subject which the Information Commissioner has drawn attention to in his decisions. Delegates will also receive a comprehensive training pack containing useful checklists and guidance notes.


Dangers of CCTV

CCTV does not always get it right!

Stephen McAleer was walking home with his fiancee when his local police force saw him on CCTV carrying a knife. Stephen had previous convictions for assault, prompting the cops to swoop down and throw him in prison for three months.

Actually it was a rose he was carrying!

Stephen McAleer lost three months to prison; for some people the simple trauma of being thrown in jail would have a profound effect on their lives.

Google Chief's Privacy Warning

Eric Schmidt, the chief executive of Google, has issued a stark warning over the amount of personal data people leave on the internet and suggested that many of them will be forced one day to change their names in order to escape their cyber past.

In a startling admission from a man whose company has made billions by perfecting the art of hoarding, storing and retrieving information on us, Mr Schmidt suggested that the enormous quantity of detail we leave online may not be such a good thing after all.

Smarthphones, Photos and Privacy

Security experts and privacy advocates have recently begun warning about the potential dangers of geotags, which are embedded in photos and videos taken with GPS-equipped smartphones and digital cameras. Because the location data is not visible to the casual viewer, the concern is that many people may not realize it is there; and they could be compromising their privacy, if not their safety, when they post geotagged media online.

Megrahi's Medical Records

Interesting case which cuts across  data protection, freedom of information and the law of confidentiality.

The US senate committee examining the release of the convicted Lockerbie bomber is calling for his medical records to be released. It comes after Scottish Labour demanded the publication of the evidence which led to Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi being given less than three months to live.

Megrahi was released on compassionate grounds in August last year.The Scottish government confirmed it had received the letter and would reply "in due course."

Ministers have already published a report which led to the decision to release the Libyan. The report, published by the Scottish Prison Service's medical chief, Dr Andrew Fraser, suggested last August that Megrahi - who has terminal prostate cancer - had three months to live. Labour said the medical advice which led Dr Fraser to his conclusion should be published, along with the names of the doctors who provided it.

RIPA Webcast Recording

Just in case you missed today's RIPA webcast on the Poole Council decision you can now watch the recording:

The next one will be a Freedom of Information Update in September. You can register now on our website.

Our next RIPA Update course is in Belfast, London and Manchester in the Autumn

You may also wish to consider purchasing our RIPA Forms guidance which is proving very popular with local authorities:

Finally please feel free to get in touch if we can assist with any of your in house RIPA training needs.

Ibrahim Hasan

CCTV Controversy in Birmingham Continues

A disproportionately high concentration of CCTV cameras located in mainly Muslim areas of Birmingham continues to trigger concern from residents. The system will not be dismantled and despite earlier assurances could yet be used for counter-terrorism purposes, West Midlands Police have told the BBC

ContactPoint Scrapped

A £235m government database containing the records of England's 11 million children is being switched off. ContactPoint was established in the wake of the Victoria Climbie child abuse case to aid child protection.

The system, which has been running since January last year, was always controversial and was set to cost a further £41m a year. Many said it was useful in tracking children and discovering the truth about the way they are cared for.In July, Children's Minister Tim Loughton confirmed that the government was scrapping the scheme.

The Government is looking at establishing a new national service which would focus on helping practitioners find out whether another practitioner is working, or has worked, in another authority area with a child.

Decommissioning of the information contained on the database will begin at noon on Friday.

RIPA Reports Published

The latest reports by the various Commissioners in charge of inspecting public bodies under different parts of RIPA have been published:

I may comment on these in next week's RIPA update webcast:


Ibrahim Hasan

Follow me on Twitter @ActNowTraining

RIPA Review Article

My article on the new RIPA Review has just been published in the Local Government Lawyer :
Ibrahim Hasan
Follow me on Twitter @ActNowTraining

RIPA Webcast

Poole Council was recently found to have violated the human rights of a mother and her family when doing covert surveillance  under Part 2 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA).

Ibrahim Hasan is doing a free webcast next week where he will examine the decision in detail and the new RIPA review announce by the Coalition Government which will report in the Autumn.

To register:

Act Now Training Twitter Feed

You can now get the latest news and views on information and surveillance law direct to you computer, mobile or smartphone by subscribing to our Twitter feed:

The recent tweets have all been about the IPT decision on Poole Council's use of RIPA.

Please feel free to pass this e mail on.

Poole Council Decision


The decision about Poole Council's use of surveillance powers has just been given by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal.

It will have big implications for councils' use of surveillance powers and ties in nicely with the recent announcement by the Government to review the use of RIPA by councils. You can read my article about the review on our website:

I will be examining this case in detail as well as looking at any changes announced as a result of the RIPA review in the Autumn in my forthcoming RIPA Update workshops:


Ibrahim Hasan
Act Now Training Limited

Article on Government Proposals

My article on the Government's Information Law proposals has just been published in the Law Society Gazette. You can download a word version from our website:

You can also view my webcast on this topic:

Web Seminar Recording

There were some technical difficulties today which meant that some of you had problems listening or asking questions in our web seminar on the Government's Information Law proposals. We are sorry about this and are working with the providers to tackle these issues.

You can still watch the recording (as well as previous web seminars) at:

If you would like a copy of the slides please e mail

Solicitors and Legal Executives can claim half a CPD point.

If I did not answer your question please feel free to post it to the Ask Ibrahim section:

My next web seminar will be on 16th September 2010 at 11am on the subject of the latest Freedom of Information cases.

FOI and Guntanamo Bay

Documents released in the High Court this week reveal for the first time some of the behind-the-scenes debates in Whitehall over whether the UK should work with the US on Guantanamo Bay - and how the decision was taken to allow British citizens to be taken to the camp.

Somewhere in London, there is a secure room where some 80 lawyers and officials are reading through 500,000 documents - and deciding which will see the light of day.

To me this story shows that the search for openness and transparency is not the exclusive domain of the Freedom of Information Act. Judges have a role to play too

Home Office Reviews RIPA

Just when council’s are trying to meet the challenge of implementing the changes to Part 2 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) (in force on 6th April 2010), it seems that the Act is due for another overhaul. Home Secretary Theresa May today (Tuesday 13th July 2010) announced a review "focusing on which security powers could be scaled back in order to restore the balance of civil liberties ."

The review will cover six key areas, encompassing what the Home Secretary said were the most "controversial and sensitive powers" available to government to deal with terrorist threats. These are:

  • use of control orders
  • stop and search powers in section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and use of terrorism legislation in relation to photography
  • detention of terrorist suspects before charge
  • extending the use of deportations with assurances to remove foreign nationals from the UK who pose a threat to national security
  • measures to deal with organisations that promote hatred or violence
  • use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 by local authorities, and access to communications data in general
The latter area will have a big impact on local authorities. Note once again the Government is perpetuating the myth that RIPA is "anti terror legislation".

The Home Secretary will report back on the findings of the review in the autumn. The Labour lot are seeing the outcome of the review is a forgone conclusion. If this is the case then note page 12 of the Coalition Agreement which states:

"We will ban the use of powers in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) by councils, unless they are signed off by a magistrate and required for stopping serious crime."   

Please see our website for two free webcasts on the changes which come into force on 6th April 2010:


Ibrahim Hasan
Act Now Training Limited

Information Law Newsletter (July 2010)


We have just published the latest issue of the Act Now Information Law newsletter:

In it you will find news of the latest developments and cases in the world of data protection, freedom of information and surveillance law (RIPA).

Top Stories in this issue cover:
  • The Coalition Government's Plans for More transparency
  • Latest ICO and Tribunal Decisions
  • Disclosure of Statistics
  • ICO Enforcement Action
  • Latest News on Information Security (including a free training package)
  • Changes to RIPA
  • CCTV controversy in Birmingham

...and much more


Ibrahim Hasan

Act Now Training

New Code of Practice

Organisations that flout privacy online risk a double whammy of enforcement action by the Information Commissioner’s Office and the loss of trust from customers.

In a major speech on privacy protection today, Christopher Graham, the Information Commissioner, appealed to businesses, charities and public bodies to be straight with consumers so that people know why their personal information is being collected, how it will be used and who else may end up seeing it.

Launching the ‘Personal information online code of practice’ - the first guidance document of its kind – Christopher Graham said: “The benefits of the internet age are clear: the chance to make more contacts, quicker transactions and greater convenience. But there are risks too. A record of our online activity can reveal our most personal interests. Get privacy right and you will retain the trust and confidence of your customers and users; mislead consumers or collect information you don’t need and you are likely to diminish customer trust and face enforcement action from the ICO.”

Organisations that adhere to the good practice tips in the Code of Practice will enable consumers to make an informed choice about whether they sign up for a particular online service. Keeping out of date records or not holding personal information securely help nobody and could result in enforcement action.

CCTV in Birmingham - Part 2

An example of people power? Is the power shifting from the "Nothing to Hide- Nothing to Fear" Brigade?

Hidden cameras in areas of Birmingham with large Muslim populations will be removed and any counter terrorism involvement stopped, police say.

A total of 218 cameras - 72 hidden - were put up in the Washwood Heath and Sparkbrook districts and paid for from a Home Office counter-terrorism fund.

Residents said they were not consulted about it.

Regulation of ANPR

The Coalition Agreements promises further regulation of CCTV. There has been little detail  up to now:

Police cameras that record motorists' movements must be more tightly regulated, Home Secretary Theresa May has ordered.

The 4,000-strong automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) network logs more than 10 million vehicles every day.

The government is to look at limiting access to the database of 7.6 billion images, details of number plates and the date, time and place of capture.

ISEB Data Protection Course in Manchester

Just a reminder that we are running our ISEB Data Protection course in Manchester starting in September:

Over the last few exams our pass rate and success rate has shot up and we are now one of the most successful providers. Please click on the link below to see the latest figures:

We are pleased to offer a 10% discount to anyone who books two or more places for the same organisation.  If you have any questions please ring us on 01924 451054

More Salaries Revealed

The six-figure salaries of more than 150 bosses of taxpayer-supported quangos have been published.
The highest sum listed was the £394,999 paid to Olympic Delivery Authority chief executive David Higgins.
He was one of eight senior figures at the body earning in excess of £200,000 a year.

Please see the article on our website about disclosure of civil servants' salaries.

Credit Agencies Doing Surveillance/Info Sharing

Credit agencies have been called in by ministers hunting for massive savings in government spending to help slash Britain's £3bn benefit fraud bill.

A nationwide clampdown on bogus housing benefit claims will be launched this year using techniques borrowed from the private sector for assessing creditworthiness. A similar drive against fraudulent claims for incapacity benefit is expected to follow. The companies will compare information about private household spending – such as utility bills, mobile phone payment details and satellite television subscriptions – against benefit records to identify potential fraudsters.

What concerns me here is the double speak. On the one hand the coalition government promises to restrict council's power to do surveillance (RIPA) and on the other it is planning to bring in the private sector to do more surveillance/information sharing.

Those interested in this area may wish to watch my recent  webcasts on information sharing and surveillance:


Ibrahim Hasan
Act Now Training Limited

Disclosure of BBC Salaries

The BBC Trust has called for the publication of star salaries, marking a policy shift for the corporation's governing body.Chairman Sir Michael Lyons said the BBC had to show that it was not "aloof and separate" from the economic problems the entire country faced.

He said the details of star pay would be revealed in bands, but individual salaries would not be disclosed.

Lawrence Serewicz has kindly done an article for Act Now on disclosure of salary information which can be read on our website:

Web Seminar Recording


Just in case you missed yesterday's free Information Sharing web seminar, you can watch the recording (as well as previous web seminars) at:

Solicitors and Legal Executives can claim half a CPD point.

My next web seminar will be on 22nd July at 11am on the subject of the Government's Proposals on Information and Surveillance Law.


Ibrahim Hasan

YH Information Law Networking Group

There was in the past a regional group called the Yorkshire and the Humber Data Protection Forum.
In recent years it hasn’t been as effective but we are hoping to revive the group and extend its remit into all areas of current Information Law.
The inaugural meeting will be in Bradford on 12th July 2010 starting at 1-30 pm. This is a free event. Refreshments served from 1-00 pm. Bring your own questions to discuss on the day.
For more details about the event and venue please click on the link below.
To attend please email with Y&H meeting in the subject line


Ibrahim Hasan

Act Now Training

ID Cards

If you think these have gone forever think again...

NHS Summary Care Record

The Summary Care Record (SCR) and HealthSpace technologies, introduced in the NHS as part of the National Programme for IT (NPfIT), have so far demonstrated only modest benefits according to the final report of a three-year independent evaluation carried out by UCL researchers.

The report’s publication coincides with the publication of a research paper based on the findings in the British Medical Journal

I will be looking at the subject of information sharing during next weeks free live web seminar:

Vetting Scheme

The vetting scheme for nine million people working with children and vulnerable adults in England, Wales and Northern Ireland has been halted.

Home Secretary Theresa May has announced that registration, due to begin next month, has been put on hold.

Information Sharing Web Seminar


I am doing a free web seminar on Multi Agency Information Sharing next week:

Wednesday 23rd June 2010 at 11am

I will be examining the different laws which come into play when sharing personal information. I will also discuss the latest High Court decision which sheds light on this difficult issue.  There will be an opportunity to watch the live broadcast with slides and ask questions in real time.

Many of you have already registered. If this is your first time watching a web seminar, may I ask that you go on to our website and try out a recording of  a previous webcast. This will ensure that you can iron out any problems before this event.

For those of you who have not registered there is still time and it’s free. Please go to:


Ibrahim Hasan
Act Now Training Limited

RIPA Changes

The Coalition Agreement states that :

"We will ban the use of powers in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) by councils, unless they are signed off by a magistrate and required for stopping serious crime" (page 12)

Hugo Rifkind, of the Times, has written an excellent piece in the Spectator arguing that there is no need to curtail councils' powers to do covert surveillance and that they are a force for good:

The article is well worth a read especially for those who have not grasped what RIPA is about (including the new Government) and call it "anti terror" legislation. My webcasts on the new RIPA codes of Practice may also be useful:

Surveilance v Privacy

BBC Radio 4 Thurs 10 June 2010  20:00-20:30

Law in Action Program

All about Police Surveillance v  Privacy - will be available to hear in Listen Again for 7 days:

or download the podcast:

Thoughtful and worth listening to.

ISEB DP Exam Results

Act Now Training is pleased to announced that again our delegates have achieved outstanding results in the ISEB Data Protection exams which took place in April 2010

Led by Paul Simpkins, the course was run in London in March and April 2010. We had 10 delegates from a range of backgrounds but mainly from local government. 9 delegates passed with an average mark of 58%. The pass mark is 50%.
We have more ISEB courses planned for Manchester, London and Edinburgh later in the year.
Please consult out website for more details about each course. You can also see a sample of our successful candidates and read their testimonials.
Please feel free to get in touch if you would like to discuss any aspects of the courses.
Ibrahim Hasan
Solicitor and Trainer

TSO Challenge

TSO recently launched OpenUp, a challenge to encourage the British public to think about the government data they use in the course of their lives, for example parents may need data on local schools, or those looking to buy a property might want crime statistics for the area.

OpenUp asks data users to consider how they would like this information presented to them. What do they need to make informed decisions and how do they want that information presented: on a map, combined with other statistics, or delivered as a regular email?

If you have an idea you would like to enter into the OpenUp challenge, simply visit:

 and submit your idea online by 29 October 2010. The best five ideas will then be selected and if yours is one of them you will be invited to pitch your idea to our panel of experts.

The winning OpenUp entry will be brought to life with a £50,000 development fund from TSO, as well as a £1,000 personal prize for the creator of the winning idea.

COINS Database

Previously unreleased information about government spending is due to be published as part of a drive to open up official data to the public.
The Treasury is to announce that it will make details available from its Coins database, which lists all expenditure across Whitehall.

It is one of a number of initiatives by the new government designed to increase openness and accountability.

Details of civil servants earning more than £150,000 were published last week, while information about all future government spending above £25,000 is due to become available from November.

Civil Servants' Salaries

More than 170 civil servants are paid more than Prime Minister David Cameron's £142,500-a-year salary, according to Cabinet Office figures.

The salaries of those earning over £150,000 were revealed for the first time in a bid to aid transparency. The government says increased transparency on senior pay will "help win back people's trust".

More Government Data to be Disclosed

Prime Minister David Cameron has set out plans to make more government data accessible to the public.

Mr Cameron said he wanted to rip off the "cloak of secrecy" around government and public services - and extend transparency as far as possible.

Data being made available includes items of major government spending and the pay of top civil servants.

The prime minister also believes it will add to economic growth as the private sector collates the new information and offers it in different ways to the public.

Ministers quote research from Cambridge University that suggests such information could add £6bn to the economy.

Ibrahim Hasan

CCTV and Big Brother Watch Report

Interesting Article on CCTV and the Big Brother Watch Report

Note the bit at the end:

"Law Society president Robert Heslett said the centre would help reverse the erosion of civil liberties brought about by the disproportionate use of surveillance technology. The Law Society would be ‘a key player in a coalition of individuals and organisations concerned with the legal and human implications of surveillance in the UK and internationally,’ he said. And he has called upon lawyers and activists to become involved in the centre’s work. For anyone who is interested, see the Privacy Rights Centre website."

RIPA in the Queens Speech

The Queen's Speech was published today. It contains proposals for a Freedom Bill which may make some changes to RIPA. You can read the proposals on the Downing Street website:

The only concrete bit on RIPA at present is as follows:

"Ensuring anti-terrorism legislation strikes the right balance between protecting the public, strengthening social cohesion and protecting civil liberties."

I do not think that RIPA will be repealed although there may be a few changes. It's too early to say what these will be but I do not think it will involve curtailing it to such an extent where councils will no longer be able to use it. Also the involvement of Magistrates (as some have suggested) is a non starter/unworkable.

See my RIPA webcasts :

RIPA Report

Big Brother Watch has a new report out today, on councils using covert surveillance to spy on people.

 You can read the report here:


No doubt this will lead more "ant-terror powers" headlines in the media.

There are plenty of RIPA resources on my website including:

Two RIPA webcasts on the latest changes
A summary article om the changes
The new RIPA forms guidance document


FOI Podcast no: 22

I have just published episode 22 of my FOI Podcast in which I discuss decisions of the First Tier Tribunal (Information Rights) for the three months up to the end of April 2010 on:

·      Late reliance on exemptions

·      Vexatious requests

·      Information about animal testing

·      Anonymised personal data

·      Information about employees and old personal data

·      Disclosure of legal advice

I also examine the latest decisions on access to property search information under EIR.

Please feel free to pass on this e mail to interested colleagues.


Ibrahim Hasan

Solicitor and Trainer

RIPA before the European Court

Colleagues who advise on surveillance and RIPA will find this story interesting:

The European Court of Human Rights has rejected a claim that the UK's Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) violates the human right to a private life. The UK's rules and safeguards on covert surveillance are proportionate, said the court. The European Court of Human Rights has rejected a claim that the UK's Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) violates the human right to a private life. The UK's rules and safeguards on covert surveillance are proportionate, said the court.

So now the ECHR has given the thumbs up to RIPA will the ConLib alliance continue to with its proposals to curb this "anti terror legislation?"

I have done two webcasts on the latest changes to RIPA which can be found on our website:

If you are a solicitor or Legal Executive you can claim half a CPD point for each webcast you watch.


Ibrahim Hasan
Act Now Training Limited

Google Street View

Google has admitted that for the past three years it has wrongly collected information people have sent over unencrypted  wi-fi networks.

The issue came to light after German authorities asked to audit the data the company's Street View cars gathered as they took photos viewed on Google maps.

Google said during a review it found it had "been mistakenly collecting samples of payload data from open networks".

What else is Google doing that we do not know about?


Ibrahim Hasan
Act Now Training Limited

Please see our exciting new website:

Next FOI Update Webcast

My next free web seminar is on Wednesday 19th May at 11am.

I will be discussing the latest FOI decisions from the Tribunal including:

·      Late reliance on exemptions

·      Vexatious requests

·      Information about animal testing

·      Anonymised data

·      The Church of Scientology

·      Disclosure of legal advice

I will also examine the latest cases on access to CON29 property search information.

There will be an opportunity to watch the live broadcast with slides and ask questions in real time.

Please click on the links below for more details. You will have to register but it's absolutely free.

Please feel free to pass on this e mail to interested colleagues.

Con Lib Alliance

Now that we have a "CONLIB Love In" it is interesting to note what the parties have agreed about information/surveillance law:

The scrapping of :
- the ID card scheme
- the National Identity register
- the next generation of biometric passports 
- the Contact Point Database (all that work wasted???)

Outlawing the finger-printing of children at school without parental permission.

The extension of the scope of the Freedom of Information Act to provide greater transparency (More organisations to be added??)

Adopting the protections of the Scottish model for the DNA database.

The review of libel laws to protect freedom of speech.

Safeguards against the misuse of anti-terrorism legislation (Changes to RIPA? although it is not anti terror legislation)

Further regulation of CCTV (A CCTV Act???)

Ending of storage of internet and email records without good reason.


Ibrahim Hasan
Act Now Training Limited

£1 Miliion Pound CCTV Camera

A London CCTV camera is earning almost £1 million a year in fines from local motorists. The camera, located outside Clapham South underground station in south west London, has caught an average of 23 drivers a day, each of which have been fined £100 for pulling into a bus stop outside the station to drop off passengers.

Animals' Right to Privacy

Animals' right to privacy needs to be taken more seriously by wildlife documentary makers, suggests research.

The ethics of the media and privacy should be extended beyond humans to the animal world, suggests Brett Mills at the University of East Anglia.

Some people may agree. Others may think this is form the manifesto of the Monster Raving Loony Party!

Get it?

New website

Colleagues may be interested in our new look website:

We would welcome any feedback - offline please.


Ibrahim Hasan
Act Now Training Limited

Information Law Newsletter

You can read our April 2010 newsletter by clicking on the link below:
 In this issue you will find articles on:

Access to the files of the deceased
Disclosure of university course materials
FOISA in Scotland
£500 fines for DP offences
DP news roundup
Part 2 of RIPA: the new law
...And much more
You can also access our previous newsletters by visiting our website:

New RIPA Codes Web Seminar


I am doing a free web seminar on the new RIPA Codes of Practice next week:

RIPA Update: The New Codes – Tuesday 13th April 2010 at 11am

The new RIPA codes, which came into force on 6th April 2010, will have a big impact on the way public authorities do covert surveillance. Amongst other things, I will be discussing CCTV, noise monitoring, collaborative working, test purchases and member involvement. There will be an opportunity to watch the live broadcast with slides and ask questions in real time.

Many of you have already registered. If this is your first time watching a web seminar, may I ask that you go on to our website and try out a recording
of  a previous webcast. This will ensure that you can iron out any problems before this event.

For those of you who have not registered there is still time and it’s free. Please go to:

Feel free to pass this link on to interested colleagues in Legal, Environmental Health, Licensing and Trading Standards.


Ibrahim Hasan

Data Privacy Summit

BrightTALK are running a free Data Privacy & Security Summit on April 8th or on-demand after. The full day of live, interactive webcasts will feature a global program of 16 webcasts and can be accessed from the convenience of your desk.

If you miss the event, you can watch the recorded version on-demand.  You can view the full summit lineup here:
Some speakers and topics include:
Privacy, Data Protection and Security – Post UK Election
Toby Stevens, Director, Enterprise Privacy Group
Navigating Data Privacy Issues in Cloud Computing
Hazel Grant, Partner, Bristows
Next Generation Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETs)
Marc Sel, Director of Information Protection, PwC Belgium
Challenges in Achieving Global Privacy: Latest Compliance Changes
Jan-Boris Wojtan, EALA Data Privacy Lead, Accenture
Privacy in Today's Cloud Infrastructures
John T. Sabo; CA, Director of Global Government Relations
Register Now:
This summit is part of a monthly series of Information Security thought leadership online events. You can engage live with the speakers or view it after on-demand.
Kind regards,
Ibrahim Hasan

New RIPA Codes in Force


The new RIPA (Part 2) Codes of Practice came into force today:

I am pleased to announce that you can now download an extract of my popular RIPA Forms Guidance Manual to evaluate:

It consists of each form reproduced with detailed notes on how to complete each section. Version 3 (April 2010) of the Guidance has been fully revised in the light of the new RIPA Order and Codes of Practice. The Home Office forms still make reference to the old codes. Our forms are reproduced with references to the new codes.

We are also doing a series of workshops examining the new codes in Bristol, Manchester, Belfast and London:


Ibrahim Hasan

Useful RM Tool

The National Archives yesterday published the new self assessment tool to support compliance with the Records Management Code issued under s.46 of the Freedom of Information Act, as revised in July 2009.

The link below will take you to the relevant web-page:

Don't forget we are doing a workshop on the new code in Manchester on 11th May 2010:

Ibrahim Hasan


RMS Conference

I spoke at the RMS Conference last week in Manchester. My session was entitled FOI Update.

Those interested can download the slides at:


Ibrahim Hasan

Act Now Training

RIPA Conference

The Welsh Assembly Government, supported by the Welsh Local Government Association, will be hosting an excellence day on the application of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA).

The event will be held on 21st April at the SWALEC Stadium, Cardiff from 10am.

I am one of the facilitators.

I think attendance is free but you may just want to check with the organisers.

Medical Records Security

At least 100,000 non-medical staff in NHS trusts have access to confidential patient records, claim campaigners.

Big Brother Watch, who based the figure on 151 responses from trusts, said it demonstrated "slack security".

The group says hospital domestics, porters, and IT staff are among those with access to records in some trusts.

Information Disclosure Case

To what extent can or should local authorities share information about individuals thought to pose a risk to children?

In the recent case of H & L v X City Council and Y City Council [2010] EWHC 466 (Admin), the Administrative Court considered this question in a case involving the disclosure of information by a local authority about a severely disabled man (H) who had been convicted of indecent assault on a child. More details can be read at:

I will be discussing this case in detail during my forthcoming workshop  on Multi Agency Information Sharing in Manchester on 5th May 2010:

ISEB Results

Dear Colleagues

Act Now Training is pleased to announced that it's recent delegates on the ISEB Courses leading to the Certificates in Data Protection and Freedom of Information have achieved outstanding results in the exams which took place in January 2010.

Data Protection - Led by Paul Simpkins and Tim Turner, the course was run in Manchester and Edinburgh in December/January. We had 23 delegates from a range of backgrounds but mainly from local government.

So far 76% of all delegates have passed the exam with an average mark of 60%.

We are currently running the course in London and have more planned for Manchester and Edinburgh later in the year. To download a detailed flyer click here

Freedom of Information - Led by Ibrahim Hasan, the course was run in Manchester in December/January. We had 13 delegates from a range of backgrounds but mainly from local government.

So far 91% of all our delegates have passed the exam with an average mark of 60%.

The next course is in London starting in June.
To download a detailed flyer click here

Delegate Details and Testimonials

Please consult our website for more details about each course. You can also see a sample of our successful candidates and read their testimonials.

Please feel free to get in touch if you would like to discuss any aspects of the ISEB courses.


Ibrahim Hasan

Council Chiefs' Payoffs

Council chief executives leaving their jobs early are pocketing an average pay-off of £256,104, a local government spending watchdog report has found.The Audit Commission said of the 37 given severance deals by English councils since 2007, 13 got more than £300,000 and three more than £500,000.The government said new ways to "claw back" taxpayers' money had to be found.

Thus far the ICO, when dealing with appeals relating to this subject, has always said that payoff information is personal data and should not be disclosed.

In the light of the renewed public interest this report will create, coupled with the inevitable public funding cutbacks after the election, will he decide  that there is a legitimate interest in knowing such information in the future?

Ibrahim Hasan

RIPA Article

Please find below a link to another article on the RIPA changes which come into force on 6th April 2010:

Sorry to bombard you with RIPA stuff but this is more comprehensive than previous ones.

Feel free to pass this e mail on to others. Let me know if you want a pdf version.


Ibrahim Hasan

New RIPA Orders approved

Dear Colleagues

I previously discussed the changes coming into force on 6th April 2010 to the RIPA Regime. At the time the orders giving effect to the changes were still in draft.

They have now been approved by Parliament:

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Directed Surveillance and Covert Human Intelligence Sources) Order 2010 SI 2010/52

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Covert Human Intelligence Sources: Code of Practice) Order 2010 SI 2010/462

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Covert Surveillance and Property Interference: Code of Practice) Order 2010 SI 2010/463

You can read a briefing note about the changes these orders make on my website:

I am doing a workshops where these order will be examined in detail:


Ibrahim Hasan

Solicitor and Trainer


CCTV cameras that can pick out abandoned luggage, suspicious behaviour and lock onto potential suspects are being developed by UK researchers.
It is hoped the technology could help prevent terrorist attacks by spotting odd elements in a situation before it can escalate.


Ibrahim Hasan
Act Now Training Limited

Naming of FOI Requestors

Bexley council is going to name FOI applicants

Would this not be a breach of the DPA?

See also episode 18 of my FOI podcast where I discuss this issue under section 41.

I wonder if this will catch on?

Ibrahim Hasan

Mobile Phone Spying

Software on mobile phones can be used to track the owner's every move and listen in on every phone call.

It costs as little as $50.

Watch the video on my website under "Surveillance Videos":

We know it's a criminal offence and hopefully the courts, the ICO and "Uncle Tom Cobley and all" would throw the book at the perpetrators

but, if it is this easy, why is every journalist not using this software?

Or are they???

Chips in Bins

Privacy campaigners claim increasing numbers of councils are gearing up for "pay as you throw" rubbish charges by installing microchips in wheelie bins.

The Big Brother Watch group says its survey found 68 UK authorities with the technology at their disposal - up from 42 last year - with chips in 2.6m bins.


Ibrahim Hasan

Solicitor and Trainer

Sex offender alerts

A scheme allowing parents to check if someone is a sex offender will be rolled out across England and Wales by March 2011, the Home Office says.

A year-long pilot has already protected 60 children, ministers say. A similar scheme is to be launched in Scotland.

Information Law Newsletter


Please find below a link to the latest Information Law newsletter from Act Now Training.

You can also read our EIR newsletter.

I was on holiday in January so forgot to post the link.


Ibrahim Hasan
Act Now Training Limited

Latest Web Seminar


My next free web seminar is on 4th March at 11am.

I will be discussing the latest FOI decisions from the ICO and the Tribunal. There will be an opportunity to watch the live broadcast with slides and ask questions in real time.

Please see my website for more details. You will have to register but it's absolutley free.

Please feel free to pass on this e mail to interested colleagues.


Ibrahim Hasan
Act Now Training

New FOI Podcast No: 21

Ibrahim Hasan's latest podcast has now been published. You can listen to it on his website:

You can also subscribe to the fee in your RSS feed reader:

In the three months upto the end of Janaury 2010 the Information Commissioner published 154 decisions whilst the Information Tribunal published 17. This podcast guides you through some of these.

In this episode, amongst others, we will be discussing decisions involving:


  • Redaction costs when dealing with FOI requests
  • Another use of the ministerial veto
  • Section 36 and the opinion of the qualified person
  • The tax status of a conservative peer
  • Disclosure of information about the deceased
  • When the Breach of Confidence exemption can be invoked
  • AND disclosure of commercially sensitive information 

Ibrahim will doing a Freedom of Information Update workshop in Manchester and London in March:

RIPA Update and free webcast

Just in case you missed it, the recording for the following webcast is now published and can be viewed online:

Title: Covert Surveillance and RIPA Update

A discussion of the new Orders and Codes of Practice on RIPA and their impact on local authorities.

Click this link to view the recording:

Previous webcasts and articles on the RIPA updates can be viewed at:


Ibrahim Hasan
Act Now Training Limited

Parents to be told of sex offenders

Parents across England and Wales could be told about sex offenders who may come into contact with their children.

The government is considering rolling out the scheme, currently being trialled in Southampton, Warwickshire, north Cambridgeshire and Stockton.

New RIPA Codes

Following the consultation on RIPA (Part 2 - Covert Surveillance) last year, the Home Office has announced that new codes of practice and regulations will come into force on 6th April 2010. Changes include:

- more guidance on necessity and proportionality
- more of a role for councillors in setting RIPA strategy
- the appointment of a senior officer within organisations to oversee RIPA compliance

I have produced a summary of the new developments which you can download from my website:

I will also be doing a free web seminar on this on 3rd February 2010 at 11am. For more details:

New Government Webiste

Web founder Tim Berners-Lee has unveiled his latest venture for the UK government, which offers the public better access to official data.

A new website,, will offer reams of public sector data, ranging from traffic statistics to crime figures, for private or commercial use.

Ibrahim Hasan

New DNA Data Proposals

Details of how long profiles of innocent people arrested in England and Wales can be stored on the DNA database are due to be unveiled by ministers.

It comes a year after the European Court of Human Rights said the existing indefinite limit was unfair.

The BBC understands the Home Office is to propose keeping the DNA of innocent people for a maximum of six years.

Police say retaining samples has helped solve crimes - but human rights groups say the change does not go far enough.

Free FOI Update Web Seminar

From time to time we will be producing free webcasts on the latest developments in information and surveillance law.

You can listen and participate in these via your computer. All you need is a broadband internet connection and some speakers/headphones to listen to the audio. The slides are displayed on the screen and you can email your questions during the webcast as well as leave your feedback at the end.

It's a fun and free way to learn without leaving the comfort of your office!

The next webcast will be a Freedom of Information Update  on 13th October 2009 at 10am.

Participation is absolutely free. Go to

Or click on the links below:

FOI Podcast No:19


Episode 19 of the UK's only FOI podcast has now been published.

In the May, June and July 2009 the Information Commissioner published seventy four decisions whilst the Information Tribunal published thirteen. In this episode, amongst others, Ibrahim Hasan will be discussing decisions on:

•    Fees and the aggregation rules
•    Request for information about land
•    Court records and section 32
•    Section 36 and disclosure of internal correspondence
•    Statistics and section 40
•    Disclosure of disciplinary records
•    AND the definition of commercial interests under section 43

To Listen:

You can also subscribe to this podcast using the RSS Feed:

EIR and Con 29 Searches

The Information Commissioner issued guidance in July about the relationship
between Property Search Regulations and the Environmental Information

The EIRs have long been a source of confusion and surprise, and the
Commissioner’s guidance, backed up by a number of formal decisions, is no
exception. The Commissioner insists that most of the information requested
by personal search companies is environmental, and that Councils are obliged
to allow inspection for free.

This interpretation of the EIRs is entirely logical – because they are based
on European legislation, their content is circumscribed, and they are not
very flexible. Any request for any information covered by the definition of
Environmental Information is covered by the EIRs, and the Commissioner
cannot ignore this, despite the headaches this causes for local councils,
the LGA and the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Help is at hand – Act Now’s course on the Environmental Information
Regulations (running in London and Belfast) now includes a specific section
on personal searches, and covers all the relevant issues.

Latest OSC Report

On 21st July 2009 the Chief Surveillance Commissioner, Sir Christopher Rose, published his annual report to the Prime Minister and Scottish Ministers on the application of Part 2 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Scotland) Act 2002. You can read it by clicking on the link below:

The report relates to the period 1st April 2008 to 31st March 2009. It covers the use of directed surveillance, intrusive surveillance and Covert Human Intelligence Source’s (CHIS) by the police and other public authorities including local authorities. It contains some very useful pointers to help authorities carrying our surveillance and also the errors to avoid.
You can read Ibrahim Hasan's summary of the report by clicking on the link below:
Once again the Commissioner has emphasised the importance of training. At paragraph 5.27 he states:
“I continue to hold the view that those public authorities which invest in training usually achieve a higher standard of compliance.”
Act Now continues to be the market leader in training in all aspects of RIPA and surveillance law. Courses are being run in London, Manchester and Edinburgh in Autumn 2009. Please click below to see our full range of courses:

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