External Research Commissioned into Notice and Consent

The request was partially successful.

Dear Office of the Australian Information Commissioner,

For the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act, I request copy of documents relating to the commissioning of external research by the OAIC into Notice and Consent (limited to the external research report, if available, but if such a report is not available then any other document within scope).

Sincerely

Julie

Legal, Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

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Our reference: FOIREQ20/00220
Dear Julie
Freedom of Information request

I refer to your request for access to documents made under the Freedom of
Information Act 1982 (Cth) (the FOI Act) and received by the Office of the
Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) on 7 November 2020.
Scope of your request
In your email you seek access to the following:
“…copy of documents relating to the commissioning of external research by
the OAIC into Notice and Consent (limited to the external research report,
if available, but if such a report is not available then any other
document within scope).”
In order to process your request as efficiently as possible, I will
exclude duplicates and early parts of email streams that are captured in
later email streams from the scope of this request, unless you advise me
otherwise.
Timeframes for dealing with your request

Section 15 of the FOI Act requires this office to process your request no
later than 30 days after the day we receive it. However, section 15(6) of
the FOI Act allows us a further 30 days in situations where we need to
consult with third parties about certain information, such as business
documents or documents affecting their personal privacy. We will notify
you separately if we need to consult a third party.
As we received your request on 7 November 2020, we must process your
request by 7 December 2020.
Disclosure Log

Documents released under the FOI Act may be published online on our
disclosure log, unless they contain personal or business information that
would be unreasonable to publish.
If you would like to discuss this matter, please contact me on my contact
details set out below.
Yours sincerely
 

Joseph Gouvatsos | Lawyer
Legal Services
[1][IMG]   Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
GPO Box 5218 Sydney NSW 2001  |  [2]oaic.gov.au
02 8231 4259 |  [3][email address]

 

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Legal, Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

1 Attachment

Our reference: FOIREQ20/00220

Dear Julie

Freedom of information request no. FOIREQ20/00220

I refer to your request made under the Freedom of Information Act 1982
(Cth) (FOI Act) and received by the Office of the Australian Information
Commissioner (OAIC) on 7 November 2020.

Because your request covers documents which contain information concerning
an organisation’s business or professional affairs and personal
information, the OAIC is required to consult the individuals and
organisations under ss 27 and 27A of the FOI Act before making a decision
on release of the documents.

For this reason, the period for processing your request has been extended
by 30 days to allow time to consult (see s 15(6) of the FOI Act). The
processing period for your request will now end on 6 January 2021.

The consultation mechanisms under ss 27 and 27A apply when we believe the
person or organisation concerned may wish to contend that the requested
documents are exempt for reasons of personal privacy, or may adversely
affect their business or financial affairs. We will take into account any
comments we receive but the final decision about whether to grant you
access to the documents you requested rests with the office of the OAIC.

At this time we do not have your permission to release your name to any
person or business we consult. Please advise if you consent to your name
being disclosed during consultation.

Kind regards

 

[1][IMG]   Joseph Gouvatsos | Lawyer

Legal Services

Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

GPO Box 5218 Sydney NSW 2001  |  [2]oaic.gov.au

02 8231 4259 |  [3][email address]

 

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Dear Joseph,

Your email of 1 December claims that a consulting report on notice and consent prepared for the Information Commissioner by external consultants contains information:

* concerning a person in respect of his or her business or professional affairs, or concerning the business, commercial or financial affairs of an organisation or undertaking (business information), where the disclosure of the information would, or could reasonably be expected to, unreasonably affect the person adversely in respect of his or her lawful business or professional affairs or that organisation or undertaking in respect of its lawful business, commercial or financial affairs (s 47G(1)(a)), or could reasonably be expected to prejudice the future supply of information to the Commonwealth or an agency for the purpose of the administration of a law of the Commonwealth or of a Territory or the administration of matters administered by an agency (s 47G(1)(b)) [The operation of the business information exemption depends on the effect of disclosure rather than the precise nature of the information itself]; and

* that would involve the unreasonable disclosure of personal information of a reasonably identifiable of a third person, the disclosure of which would be an "unreasonable invasion of their privacy" for personal information which is not well known, nor publicly available, and which would create an unreasonable stress for that third person.

Despite these claims, the Information Commissioner released in full (without any third party consultation), a similar research report on the definition of personal information was commissioned by the Information Commissioner (copy available here https://www.oaic.gov.au/assets/about-us/... ).

It appears therefore that your third party consultation decision, made before asking me if I even sought such information (given it would likely be incidental and irrelevant to the report as a whole, and therefore redactable under section 22 by consent), is a decision made contrary to the obligation for FOI agencies to process FOI requests in a timely and cost efficient way.

However, as you are well aware, there is no recourse to a decision by an OAIC delegate claiming (whether in bad faith or not) third party consultation given it could only be raised as a section 70 complaint, which would be to the OAIC itself.

Given that the OAIC is supposed to be modelling FOI best practice, this risible abuse of process is deeply disappointing and perhaps explains the current poor state of FOI practice federally (given the watchdog is busy setting new lows).

Sincerely

Julie

Legal, Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

4 Attachments

Our reference: FOIREQ20/00220

Dear Julie,

Please find attached correspondence relating to your Freedom of
Information request.

Kind regards,

[1][IMG]   Joseph Gouvatsos | Lawyer

Legal Services

Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

GPO Box 5218 Sydney NSW 2001  |  [2]oaic.gov.au

02 8231 4259 |  [3][email address]

 

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3. mailto:[email address]