Election 2013 Western Australia March 9

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FOI iT Matters

Information Commissioner Clarifies Third Parties Rights

Information Commissioner Sven Bluemmel has in his 2012 Annual Report clarified the situation in regard to third parties and Freedom of Information requests.
He stated the area which continued to cause confusion was the rights of third parties.
Under FOI an government body was obliged to seek the views of third parties before giving access to documents which contain personal, commercial or business information about them.
If the body has already formed a view that the specified information is exempt from disclosure, then interaction with the third party is not necessary.
He made a point it may cause unnecessary confusion and delay in responding to the applicant.
The important clarification was that if a government agency does consult with a third party, having formed the view that the information is not exempt from disclosure, the third party does not have a right of veto over its disclosure.
The Information Commissioner Bluemmel stated, 'The consultation process should not be an open ended invitation for the third party to express a general preference about disclosure of the information'
Once the body has obtained the third party’s views, the agency must then make its own decision whether the information is in fact exempt under the FOI Act, even if the third party has objected.


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