Data Protection Commissioner Office – We’re FOI excempt, so screw you

Or words to that effect. My god what an ignorant bunch of people in that office.

As you may be aware the Data Protection Commissioner’s Office investigated Bank of Ireland’s losing of four laptops. BOI won’t publish the report. I tried to do an FOI to get details of this report but was told rather smugly by their media person “You can’t find details of our FOI Officer because we don’t have one. We don’t come under FOI.” It was suggested I send in a request anyway and they’d consider it. So I did and it’s below. Their answer came back two hours later, which is also below. They really considered it for a while didn’t they?

Thanks for the call. What I was looking for and which I wrongly assumed I could get under FOI was the report sent to Bank of Ireland about their laptop thefts. RTE last week reported that the Data Protection Commissioner’s Office delivered a report to Bank of Ireland which included recommendations to prevent future data loss. Bank of Ireland said they would not release that report. I was looking for said report but obviously with the commercially sensitive information removed. I doubt that all the report is giving away BOI’s IP.

I also wanted to get details of the costs involved in putting that report together. Numbers of staff and manhours involved.

And the reply:

As you are aware, no regulations are currently in force specifying this office as a body to which the Freedom of Information Acts apply. As a matter of good practice and with due regard to the privacy of the parties involved, we endeavour to keep both data subjects and data controllers informed of the progress of investigations. This does not apply to your request. Having reviewed your request, I won’t release any of this information to you.

I made it very clear that I wanted non commercially sensitive information. Suddenly everything is commercially sensitive?

Why is the Data Protection Commissioner using taxmoney to write reports for non-Government organisations and then refusing to disclose a single sentence in the report? Were they under FOI they’d have to disclose everything in it that is not commercially sensitive and even then it can be argued with appeals.

What’s worse is the DPC refuses to disclose the work and costs involved in creating this report. I think the public have a right to know at least this. How is this information breaching privacy? It’d be nice to see how much money was spent on behalf of Bank of Ireland’s screwup. Bank of Ireland’s profit before tax was €1.93 billion for the year ended 31 March 2008, by the way.

I’m meeting some EU folks in a few weeks where they’ll be asking about ComReg and the DPC. Once again I’ll be happy to point out what a useless shower they both are.

16 Responses to “Data Protection Commissioner Office – We’re FOI excempt, so screw you”

  1. Aidan says:

    isn’t it a grand little country we live in, as long as we foot the bill.

  2. JL Pagano says:

    Personally sensitive should outweigh commercially sensitive every time, end of.

  3. Mike says:

    BOI didn’t even bother to encript the laptops……and this is the response

  4. le craic says:

    Sending email to Local TD now to get this raised. Totally agree that this is BS. Our money and they won’t say how it’s spent. Sick.

  5. Harry says:

    Get a life and stop being so paranoid.

  6. Damien says:

    Harry, as a Government employee, how about doing some fucking work instead of leaving comments on this blog using fake details?

  7. Damien, while it’s annoying that the DPC won’t release the info, they are perfectly entitled not to. And because FOI doesn’t apply, they’re not going to – that was the whole point of FOI, to compel our state services to be open. But the real problem isn’t the DPC, it’s the Minister for Finance who has failed to extend the FOI to new quangos and statutory bodies. Basically, what our lovely leaders have done to restrict FOI is, as new quangos appear, they haven’t signed the required Ministerial order to extend the act. FOI is, so to speak, an opt-in service. So your beef is with Mr Lenihan and his predecesors, who at a stroke could change the rules.

  8. Damien says:

    No Damian, my beef is with the the DPC because other Departments and orgs will give you information and detailed information at that without you having to go via FOI.

    It’s all down to the attitude of the DPC. It shouldn’t be up to the Minister for Finance to make the DPC open. Ironically they tout on their site that they are all for reusing and making public of information that they’ve created.

  9. Fair enough I suppose. But what’s needed is universal application (and automatic extension) of FOI across all statutory bodies. And that’s down to the government.

  10. David says:

    That’s interesting, in light of other high profile audits by the Data Commissioner (IBTS, Social Welfare etc) you might think BOI would play along and publish the report.

    Afterall, the report will only assure BOI customers that their personal data is held securely and the laptops incident was a once off, wouldn’t it?

    It’s in every customers interest to see that report. And personally, if I was one of their customers (which I’m not,thanfully) I would be demanding it directly from BOI not the Commissioner.

    Incidentally, only Gov Depts like county councils and the like need to comply with FOI.

    You can find the full Data Commissioner report on the Welfare audit on both welfare’s site and the Commissioners here.

  11. Cian says:

    Maybe the new suggested quango merging the Data Protection Commissioner, the National Disability Authority, the Equality Authority, the Equality Tribunal, and the Human Rights Commission will be a part of FoI?

  12. I suspect that as it will be a ‘new’ body it will require a ministerial order before it falls under FOI, in which case I’m sure it’s take quite a while for the Minister to get around to it…

  13. Cian says:

    Indeed, but because it is a combination of these high-profile agencies it will be harder to simply put the process off for a long time.

  14. Suzy says:

    Would love to hear some opinions on the point/efficacy of merging the DPC with IHRC and the Equality Authority???

  15. Cian says:

    My inner paranoia says it’s so the Government can shape the bodies more to their liking under the guise of cutting costs.

  16. Suzy says:

    Wear your paranoia proudly Cian!!