Freedom of information is often mentioned in the same breath as data protection. In fact, the legal position is more complicated. Whereas data protection is about protecting individuals, freedom of information is about open government. The Data Protection Act is mainly concerned with the confidentiality and security of information, but the purpose of the Freedom of Information Act is to encourage the disclosure of information. Nevertheless, the Data Protection Act does permit ‘subject access’, whereby an individual can obtain a copy of the information held about them; it is at this point that the two pieces of legislation overlap. This authoritative pocket guide is designed to help information professionals, particularly in the public sector, understand the requirements of both Acts together with the ways in which they intersect. The guide looks at the restrictions on disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, including the circumstances in which a request under the Freedom of Information Act must be declined, so as to protect personal data. The pocket guide also considers situations where disclosure of information about individuals under the Freedom of Information Act would not be in breach of the Data Protection Act because of the public interest in such disclosure.
Data Protection vs. Freedom of Information