September 2010 Archives

Another month of prevarication and delay - what is so difficult about this ?

Home Office
Office for Security and Counter Terrorism
2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF
E-mail: Website:



FOI Reference: [nnnnn]

1 September 2010

Dear [name]

I am writing in relation to your information request dated 11 June 2010 and further to
my letter of 4 August 2010.

In keeping with the decision of the ICO (ref: FS50198733) we need to consider fully the use of the exemption in section 24 (1) of the Act, which relates to information supplied by or relating to national security.

No you do not ! Such information was not requested.

See the FOIA Section 24: National Security

It is inconceivable that any warnings or intelligence about terrorist threats passed on to Chief Constables would be exactly duplicated in the geographical extent of the area which a section 44 Authorisation would cover - it is almost certain that the area which the Police would ask for an Authorisation for, would be larger than the actual target e.g. several streets around a political party conference hotel, an area of several kilometres around an airport terminal building or runway etc.

I have noted the point you have made about section 31 in your email of 6 July. As you are aware, however, the ICO did not consider use of the exemption at section 31(1) (a), (b) and (c).

See the FOIA Section 31: Law Enforcement exemption

If this section 44 extraordinary, temporary power for "stop and search" without reasonable suspicion is meant to act a s a deterrent, the time, date and geographical location of when and where it is in force must not be kept secret !

Publishing such information would have no effect whatsoever on operational security or investigations, since the numbers and types of Police deployed to unspecified roadblocks and checkpoints is not part of such Authorisations nor was it even asked for in this FOIA request.

We will still need to address the use of this exemption when responding to your request. To take account of the points raised in your most recent email we need more time and will need a further extension. We now aim to let you have a full response by 30 September 2010.

I would like to take this opportunity to apologise for the further delay in replying to your request and assure that we will respond as quickly as possible.

Should you have any queries about the handling of your information request then please do not hesitate to contact us at the above address quoting reference [nnnnn].

Yours sincerely

[name of civil servant]

This is now the second extension of the Public Interest Test which the Home Office is taking.

The 30th of September 2010 would be 77 working days after the initial FOIA request.

This is now contrary to the Information Commissioner's Office guidelines which say that such Public Interest Test should take no more than 40 days in total, even in the most complicated cases

See Time limits on considering the public interest (GPG4) (..pdf)


our view is that public authorities should aim to respond fully to all requests within 20 working days. In cases where the public interest considerations are exceptionally complex it may be reasonable to take longer but, in our view, in no case should the total time exceed 40 working days.

Where any additional time beyond the initial 20 working days is required to consider the public interest, the public authority must still serve a "refusal notice" under section 17 of FOIA within 20 working days of a request even in those cases where it is relying on a qualified exemption and has not yet completed the public interest test.


By taking so long to consider the same Public Interest Tests which they have already done before, the Home Office seems to be trying to delay a complaint to the Information Commissioner's Office, who will not accept a complaint until the departmental Internal Review procedures have been exhausted.

About this blog

This United Kingdom based blog has been spawned from Spy Blog, and is meant to provide a place to track our Freedom of Information Act 2000 requests to United Kingdom Government and other Public Authorities.

If you have suggestions for other FOIA requests,  bearing in mind the large list of exemptions, then email them to us, or use the comments facility on this blog, and we will see  what we can do, without you yourself having to come under the direct scrutiny of  "Sir Humphrey Appleby" or his minions.

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Please feel free to email us your views about this website or news about the issues it tries to comment on:

email: blog @spy[dot]org[dot]uk

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Campaign Button Links

Watching Them, Watching Us - UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign
UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign

NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card
NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card and National Identity Register centralised database.

Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.
Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.

FreeFarid_150.jpg - Kafkaesque extradition of Farid Hilali under the European Arrest Warrant to Spain

Peaceful resistance to the curtailment of our rights to Free Assembly and Free Speech in the SOCPA Designated Area around Parliament Square and beyond
Parliament Protest blog - resistance to the Designated Area restricting peaceful demonstrations or lobbying in the vicinity of Parliament.

Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans
Data Retention is No Solution - Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans.

Save Parliament: Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)
Save Parliament - Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)

Open Rights Group

The Big Opt Out Campaign - opt out of having your NHS Care Record medical records and personal details stored insecurely on a massive national centralised database.

Tor - the onion routing network
Tor - the onion routing network - "Tor aims to defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal anonymity and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security. Communications are bounced around a distributed network of servers called onion routers, protecting you from websites that build profiles of your interests, local eavesdroppers that read your data or learn what sites you visit, and even the onion routers themselves."

Tor - the onion routing network
Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress and Tor - useful Guide published by Global Voices Advocacy with step by step software configuration screenshots (updated March 10th 2009).

Amnesty International's campaign

BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

NGO in a box - Security Edition privacy and security software tools

Home Office Watch blog, "a single repository of all the shambolic errors and mistakes made by the British Home Office compiled from Parliamentary Questions, news reports, and tip-offs by the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs team." - does this apply to the Conservative - Liberal Democrat coalition government as well ?

Reporters Without Borders - Reporters Sans Frontières - campaign for journalists 'and bloggers' freedom in repressive countries and war zones.

Committee to Protect Bloggers - "devoted to the protection of bloggers worldwide with a focus on highlighting the plight of bloggers threatened and imprisoned by their government."

Icelanders are NOT terrorists ! - despite Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling's use of anti-terrorism legislation to seize the assets of Icelandic banks.

No CCTV - The Campaign Against CCTV


I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist !


Power 2010 cross party, political reform campaign


Cracking the Black Box - "aims to expose technology that is being used in inappropriate ways. We hope to bring together the insights of experts and whistleblowers to shine a light into the dark recesses of systems that are responsible for causing many of the privacy problems faced by millions of people."


Open Rights Group - Petition against the renewal of the Interception Modernisation Programme

Yes, Minister

Yes, Minister Series 1, Episode 1, "Open Government" First airtime BBC: 25 February 1980

"Bernard Woolley: "Well, yes, Sir...I mean, it [open government] is the Minister's policy after all."
Sir Arnold: "My dear boy, it is a contradiction in terms: you can be open or you can have government."

FOIA Links

Campaign for the Freedom of Information

Office of the Information Commissioner,
who is meant to regulate the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Scottish Information Commissioner,
who similarly regulates the Freedom of Information Act (Scotland) 2002

Information Tribunal - deals with appeals against decisions by the Information Commissioners.

Freedom of Information pages - Department for Constitutional Affairs

Friends of the Earth FOIA Request Generator and links to contact details for Central Government Departments and their Publication Schemes

UK Government Information Asset Register - in theory, this should point you to the correct Government documents, but in practice...well see for yourself.

Access all Information is also logging some FOIA requests - prototype FOIA request submission, tracking and publication website

Blog Links

Spy Blog

UK Freedom of Information Act Blog - started by Steve Wood, now handed over to Katherine Gundersen

Your Right To Know - Heather Brooke

Informaticopia - Rod Ward

Open Secrets - a blog about freedom of information by BBC journalist Martin Rosenbaum

Panopticon blog - by Timothy Pitt-Payne and Anya Proops. Timothy Pitt-Payne is probably the leading legal expert on the UK's Freedom of Information Act law, often appearing on behlaf of the Information Commissioner's Office at the Information Tribunal.

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