UK clarifies law on information held in private email accounts

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on December 15, 2011

News release: “The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has today published new guidance making it clear that information concerning official business held in private email accounts is subject to the Freedom of Information Act. Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham said:

  • “It should not come as a surprise to public authorities to have the clarification that information held in private email accounts can be subject to Freedom of Information law if it relates to official business. This has always been the case – the Act covers all recorded information in any form. It came to light in September that this is a somewhat misunderstood aspect of the law and that further clarification was needed. That’s why we’ve issued new guidance today with two key aims – first, to give public authorities an authoritative steer on the factors that should be considered before deciding whether a search of private email accounts is necessary when responding to a request under the Act. Second, to set out the procedures that should generally be in place to respond to requests. Clearly, the need to search private email accounts should be a rare occurrence; therefore, we do not expect this advice to increase the burden on public authorities.”
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