Mobile and fixed line telephony contracts at The National Archives

FOI request reference: F0053711
Publication date: September 2018

Request

I am writing to you under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to request
information regarding telecoms.

The attached spreadsheet shows a number of questions regarding your mobile
and fixed line telephony. Hopefully the questions are self explanatory,
note there are comments in several cells to further clarify the required
information.

Please provide the information in spreadsheet format (preferably Excel,
Google Sheets or software compatible with either program).

If there are any ways you think that my request could be refined please let
me know. If you have any queries please don’t hesitate to contact me (happy
to do over the phone if you can provide contact details) and I will be
happy to clarify any questions you may have.

Outcome

Successful

Response

Your request has been handled under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000. The FOI Act gives you the right to know whether we hold the information you want and to have it communicated to you, subject to any exemptions which may apply.

I can confirm that The National Archives holds information relevant to your request.

We are pleased to be able to provide some of this information to you. Please find the requested information on the attached excel spreadsheet.

We are unable to provide you with some of the information you have requested because it is covered by the exemptions at sections 31(1) (a) and 40(2) of the FOI Act.

Section 31(1) (a) exempts information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice the prevention or detection of crime.

Section 40 exempts personal information about a ‘third party’ (someone other than the requester), if revealing it would break the terms of Data Protection Legislation. Data Protection Legislation prevents personal information from release if it would be unfair or at odds with the reason why it was collected, or where the subject had officially served notice that releasing it would cause them damage or distress. Personal information must be processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner as set out by Art. 5 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

For further information about why these exemptions have been applied, please see the explanatory Annex at the end of this letter.

EXPLANATORY ANNEX

Exemptions applied

Section 40 (2): Personal Information where the applicant is not the data subject

We are unable to provide you with the full contact details of the person responsible for our mobile and fixed line telephony contracts because release of this information would identify a junior member of staff, as such this information is exempt from release under section 40 (2) (Personal Data) of the FOI Act.

However, we have applied the general principle that members of staff at Head of Department level and above are sufficiently senior for their names and/or job titles to already be in the public domain, as such their information is not considered exempt under section 40(2).

The Head of IT Operations at The National Archives is Julian Muller.

The National Archives’ full contact options can be found on our website here: http://apps.nationalarchives.gov.uk/contact/

Section 40 exempts personal information about a ‘third party’ (someone other than the requester), if revealing it would break the terms of Data Protection Legislation. Data Protection Legislation prevents personal information from release if it would be unfair or at odds with the reason why it was collected, or where the subject had officially served notice that releasing it would cause them damage or distress. Personal information must be processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner as set out by Art. 5 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Publishing the names and contact details of junior members of staff is considered an unfair use of personal data. Junior members of staff would have no expectation that information about their positions would be made available in the public domain; to do so would be unfair and contravene Art. 5 of the General Data Protection Regulation. As such, the names, positions and contact details of junior officials are withheld under section 40 (2) of the FOI Act.

Section 31: Law Enforcement

We are unable to provide you with information regarding specific contract end dates because this information is exempt from disclosure under section 31 (1) (a) of the FOI Act. Section 31 (1) (a) exempts information if its disclosure is likely to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime.

Section 31 is a qualified exemption and we are required to conduct a public interest test when applying any qualified exemption. This means that after it has been decided that the exemption is engaged, the public interest in releasing the information must be considered. If the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in withholding it then the exemption does not apply and the information must be released. In the FOI Act there is a presumption that information should be released unless there are compelling reasons to withhold it.

The public interest has now been concluded and the balance of the public interest has been found to fall in favour of withholding information covered by the section 31 (1) (a) exemption. Considerations in favour of the release of the information included the principle that there is a public interest in transparency and accountability in disclosing information about government procedure and contracts. However, release of this information would make The National Archives more vulnerable to crime. The crime in question here would be a malicious attack on The National Archives’ computer systems. As such release of this information would be seen to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime by making The National Archives’ computer system more vulnerable to hacking. There is an overwhelming public interest in keeping government computer systems secure which would be served by non-disclosure. This would outweigh any benefits of release. It has therefore been decided that the balance of the public interest lies clearly in favour of withholding the material on this occasion.