Documents relating to the international Ministerial meeting on sovereign digital technology

Waiting for an internal review by Digital Transformation Agency of their handling of this request.

Dear Digital Transformation Agency,

Please provide documents relating to the international Ministerial meeting on sovereign digital technology chaired by Australia sometime between May and August 2020.

Please provide:
- the agenda,
- minutes,
- any briefing documents prepared in the lead-up to or following the meeting.

Yours faithfully,

Concerned Citizen

Dear Digital Transformation Agency,

I have not received a response to this request within the statutory timeframe. Could you please indicate when you will respond?

Yours faithfully,

Concerned Citizen

DTA FOI, Digital Transformation Agency

OFFICIAL

Dear Concerned Citizen

I sincerely apologies for this error. This was completely my fault.

I though I had until 12/12/2021 to process this request, however, you are correct that it was due yesterday (2/12/2021).

In all honesty, I think the error was because of a typo. Apologies

Moving forwarded, I was trying to avoid enacting formal consultation, which would extend the request by an additional 30 day, I'm just waiting on a third-party response, and they have until 6 of December to get back to me. Once I get their response, I'll prepare a pack for the Decision Marker. The Decision Maker will require a few days to review the documents and submissions.

Would it be okay if we extend this request until the 12th of December 2021?

Happy to discuss
Suzie Sazdanovic
FOI and Privacy Manager
PH: 02 6120 8595

OFFICIAL

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Dear DTA FOI,

Thank you for your email and your candour. I appreciate that typos happen. Yes, I am happy to agree to an extension of time until the 12th of December.

Yours sincerely,

Concerned Citizen

DTA FOI, Digital Transformation Agency

1 Attachment

OFFICIAL

Dear Concern Citizen

Please find enclosed the decision in response to your request.

Thanks
Suzie Sazdanovic
FOI and Privacy Manager

OFFICIAL

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Dear Digital Transformation Agency,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Digital Transformation Agency's handling of my FOI request 'Documents relating to the international Ministerial meeting on sovereign digital technology'.

Given the response to this and recent other requests for information it seems that the DTA is not acting in good faith but is attempting to prevent the release of any information using whatever grounds it can irrespective of whether or not those grounds are justified.

In refusing access to the entirety of the 8 documents you identified you are asserting without any evidence that providing access would damage Australia's international relations. I can not see how this can be true. Providing access to the agenda for a meeting to discuss digital technology could not reasonably be expected to damage international relations.

I could understand your refusal if this request was for the contents of private text messages sent between national leaders about the procurement of submarines (for example). But it is not plausible to suggest that providing access to the agenda for a meeting about digital technology could somehow damage international relations.

Section 5.27 of the OAIC's FOI guidelines makes it clear that in order for this exemption to apply the decision must be supported by evidence:
"There must be ‘real’ and ‘substantial’ grounds for expecting the damage to occur which can be supported by evidence or reasoning".

Furthermore, the OAIC helpfully provide examples where the exemption may apply:
"For example, the disclosure of a document [or private text message] may diminish the confidence which another country would have in Australia as a reliable recipient of its confidential information, making that country or its agencies less willing to cooperate with Australian agencies in future".

And where the exemption would not apply:
"On the other hand, the disclosure of ordinary business communications between health regulatory agencies revealing no more than the fact of consultation will not, of itself, destroy trust and confidence between agencies".

It would seem to me that the international Ministerial meeting on sovereign digital technology would more likely fall in to the second category where the OAIC have suggested the exemption would not apply.

Do any of the 8 documents you identified consist solely of information that Australia provided to other governments? For example, the agenda for the meeting? In this case it is hard to understand how releasing documents that were produced by the Australian Government and that contain no information about any other government could undermine the confidence that another government might have in the Australian Government.

In reviewing this decision could the reviewer please answer the following questions for each of the 8 documents:
- Was the original decision maker correct in the assertion that providing access to the document would damage our international relations?
- If so, what are the 'real' and 'substantial' grounds for expecting the damage to occur?
- can those grounds be supported by evidence?

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/d...

Yours faithfully,

Concerned Citizen