Machine readable document from which "LS4883 - file 13/945" is derived

Matthew Landauer made this Freedom of Information request to Australian Electoral Commission

The request was refused by Australian Electoral Commission.

From: Matthew Landauer

Delivered

Dear Australian Electoral Commission,

This is an application for the original machine readable document from which the document "LS4883 - file 13/945 Letter to M Cordover notifying decision 20131209" published on the Right To Know website at https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/4... was derived.

This request is specifically for the original machine-readable Microsoft Word document before it was printed out, signed, and then scanned back in.

As stated in OAIC guidelines 3.9 available at http://www.oaic.gov.au/freedom-of-inform...

"A 'document' is defined in s 4(1) to include any or any part of the following: ... any article on which information has been stored or recorded, either mechanically or electronically
any other record of information"

And as stated in OAIC guidelines 8.111 available at http://www.oaic.gov.au/freedom-of-inform...

"8.111 Section 17 requires an agency to produce a written document if the applicant does not wish to be provided with a computer tape or disk. If the information is in the form of a sound recording the agency should provide a transcript
(s 17(1)(c)(ii)). Similarly, if the agency could produce a written document through the use of certain hardware and/or software that would meet the particulars of a request, it should do so (s 17(1)(c)(i)). In these cases, the agency must deal with the request as if it were a request for access to the written document and the FOI Act applies as if the agency had such a document in its possession (s 17(1))."

Please treat this as a request for access under the Administrative
Access Scheme that the Australian Information Commissioner suggests
each agency should establish.

if it is not possible to deal with the application in that way
please treat it as a formal application under the Freedom of
Information Act.

Yours faithfully,

Matthew Landauer

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Australian Electoral Commission

Thank you for contacting us.

This is an automatic response from the Australian Electoral Commission to confirm we have received your email.

For more information on enrolling to vote, federal elections or the AEC, visit www.aec.gov.au.

Please do not respond to this email.

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Matthew Landauer left an annotation ()

A couple of requests from the UK that are doing something similar. Might be useful reference for a further request:
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c...
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c...

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Michael Cordover left an annotation ()

The Cth FOI Act provides in s 20(2) that "subject to subsection (3) and to section 22, where the applicant has requested access in a particular form, access shall be given in that form." Section 20(1) provides that one form of access is to be given a copy of the document, and given the definition of document extends to computer files, this should be a valid option.

Section 22 deals with removing irrelevant material and s 20(3) exceptions apply when giving access in the requested form would:

(a) interfere unreasonably with the operations of the agency;

(b) be detrimental to the preservation of the document or, having regard to the physical nature of the document, would not be appropriate; or

(c) would, but for this Act, involve an infringement of copyright (other than of the Commonwealth)

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From: Owen Jones
Australian Electoral Commission


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For-Official-Use-Only

I refer to your email of 10 December 2013 4:54 PM in which you request
access to documents relating to the Australian Electoral Commission’s
review of the decision to refuse FOI Request No. LS4849  under the
[1]Freedom of Information Act 1982. I have taken your request to be for:

1.     the original machine readable document from which the document
"LS4883 - file 13/945 Letter to M Cordover notifying decision 20131209"
published on the Right To Know website at
[2]https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/4...
was derived

We received your request on 11 December 2013 and the 30 day statutory
period for processing your request commenced from the day after that date.
You should therefore expect a decision from us by 11 January 2014. The
period of 30 days may be extended if we need to consult third parties,
impose a charge or for other reasons. We will advise you if this happens.

You will be notified of any charges in relation to your request as soon as
possible, before we process any requested documents or impose a final
charge.

Please note that information released under the FOI Act may later be
published online on our disclosure log at
[3]http://www.aec.gov.au/About_AEC/foi/foi...., subject to certain
exceptions. (For example, personal information will not be published where
this would be unreasonable.)

We will contact you using the email address and phone number that you
provided. Please advise if you would prefer us to use an alternative means
of contact. If you have any questions, please contact me. My contact
details appear below in my signature block.

Regards

Owen Jones

Owen Jones | Senior Lawyer

Legal Services Section | Legal & Compliance Branch

Australian Electoral Commission

T: (02) 6271 4528 | F: (02) 6293 7657

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[4]Australian Electoral Commission logo [5]Australian Electoral
Commission

This email may contain legal advice that is subject to legal professional
privilege. Care should be taken to avoid unintended waiver of that
privilege. The Australian Electoral Commission’s Chief Legal Officer
should be consulted prior to any decision to disclose the existence or
content of any advice contained in this email to a third party.

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From: Owen Jones
Australian Electoral Commission


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Attachment LS4912 Letter notifiying decision 20140110.pdf
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Attachment LS4912 Released Document No.1.pdf
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UNCLASSIFIED

Dear Mr Landauer

I refer to your email dated 11 December 2013 3:42 PM in which you request
under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 access to the original machine
readable document from which the document "LS4883 - file 13/945 Letter to
M Cordover notifying decision 20131209" published on the Right To Know
website at
[1]https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/4...
was derived.

I enclosed a scanned letter dated 10 January 2014 from Paul Pirani, Chief
Legal Officer of the Australian Electoral Commission notifying you of his
decision. I also enclose the document released under that decision.

Regards

Owen Jones

Owen Jones | Senior Lawyer

Legal Services Section | Legal & Compliance Branch

Australian Electoral Commission

T: (02) 6271 4528 | F: (02) 6293 7657

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[2]Australian Electoral Commission logo [3]Australian Electoral
Commission

This email may contain legal advice that is subject to legal professional
privilege. Care should be taken to avoid unintended waiver of that
privilege. The Australian Electoral Commission’s Chief Legal Officer
should be consulted prior to any decision to disclose the existence or
content of any advice contained in this email to a third party.

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Andrew Donnellan left an annotation ()

Really, AEC? *Really?* Oh dear.

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From: Matthew Landauer

Delivered

Dear Owen Jones,

Thank you for response to my FOI request.

However, the document you have provided is not the document I requested.

My exact words in the original request were
"This request is specifically for the original machine-readable
Microsoft Word document before it was printed out, signed, and then
scanned back in."

The document you have provided is not a Microsoft Word document nor is it the original document before it was scanned nor is it machine readable.

I would appreciate it if you would provide me the document I requested.

Yours sincerely,

Matthew Landauer

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From: Owen Jones
Australian Electoral Commission


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UNCLASSIFIED

Dear Mr Landauer

I refer to your email of 10 January 2014 4:20 PM about your FOI Request.

The AEC does not agree with your contention. I have nothing to add to Mr
Pirani’s letter to you of 10 January 2014.

Regards

Owen Jones

Owen Jones | Senior Lawyer

Legal Services Section | Legal & Compliance Branch

Australian Electoral Commission

T: (02) 6271 4528 | F: (02) 6293 7657

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[1]Australian Electoral Commission logo [2]Australian Electoral
Commission

This email may contain legal advice that is subject to legal professional
privilege. Care should be taken to avoid unintended waiver of that
privilege. The Australian Electoral Commission’s Chief Legal Officer
should be consulted prior to any decision to disclose the existence or
content of any advice contained in this email to a third party.

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From: Matthew Landauer

Delivered

Dear Owen Jones,

I'm sorry what you're saying is faintly ridiculous.

I will focus on one part here for simplicity.

You sent me a PDF document. PDF is short for Portable Document Format and was invented by Adobe. See https://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/a... for more information.

What I requested was a Microsoft Word document which was invented by Microsoft and is the native file format of the Microsoft Word program. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_... for more information about the program and the file format.

I hope this makes it crystal clear that what you have sent me is not what I requested.

Yours sincerely,

Matthew Landauer

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Locutus Sum left an annotation ()

I can make two suggestions.

I guess that you hope that there is something hidden in the electronic document to tell you something. I also imagine that the electronic document is not necessary to you and also it does not matter if it was Microsoft Word or Open Office or another program. The thing you want is some information that is in the electronic document that is not in the print of the document (and so also it is not in the PDF scan). If this is correct, then the suggestion will make sense.

It is useful that the FOI Act has a definition of "document" in section 4 (http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/c.... Part (a)(vi) of the definition says that a document includes "any other record of information". This means that you make a new request and you can say, for example, "The document I request is a part of the original electronic document from which the document "LS4883 - file 13/945 Letter to M Cordover notifying decision 20131209" published on the Right To Know website was derived. To be precise, the document I request is a copy of the Properties fields of that electronic document to show: the date of creation of the document, the total editing time of the document, the date of modification of the document" or another sentence like this one. The difference from your original request is that there can be no dispute about whether the AEC did, or whether they did not, give answer your request. At the moment, the AEC can say that they gave you the document you wanted but they made it in a different format from the format you would like. Please have a look at paragraph 116 of http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/sinodi... to understand why I say this. (It is not necessary to tell me all the reasons why you think this argument is silly! I also think it is silly ... but it can give a look that it is plausible). It would not be possible for the AEC to obscure the response to a request that is like the one I have written.

Suggestion of the second part is to illustrate a technical fact about your request but at this stage I do not recommend you to follow it. Here it is. Section 53A of the FOI Act says that you can ask for a review from the Information Commissioner in the circumstance where there is an "access refusal decision" (www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/sinodisp/au/legis/cth/consol_act/foia1982222/s53a.html). An access refusal decision includes in section 53A(c) "a decision purporting to give, in accordance with a request, access to all documents to which the request relates, but not actually giving that access". The reply from the AEC to your request will fit this description. They say that they have given you access to the document you requested; you say that they have not. So, you could explain this to the Information Commissioner and ask for a review. My reason to suggest that you do not do this right now is because of what I have said in the other paragraph: the AEC could say that they gave you the document but in another format. Also, it is possible for an Information Commissioner review to take more than a year. So it is better to get a very clear response from the AEC to a precise request for the "record of information" that you want.

Summary: Use the law. Finalize this request and mark it "Successful" (!) but make a new request as I suggest. Do not try to make the new request by arguing about this request.

If I have not explained so well, please send me a message. I would be happy to help.

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Locutus Sum left an annotation ()

Because I am curious, I look to see who is Matthew Landauer, and I discover that I should have asked this question before I wrote my annotation. Matthew Landauer is a founder of Right to Know! So my suggestions are like trying to teach the carpenter how to cut wood. I apologise.

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Alex Sadleir left an annotation ()

The UK FOI site WhatDoTheyKnow has similar examples of the difficulty of getting electronic documents in an accessible format https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c...

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From: Owen Jones
Australian Electoral Commission


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UNCLASSIFIED

Dear Mr Landauer

I acknowledge receipt of your email of your email of 10 January 2014 4:42
PM about your FOI Request.

I disagree with your contentions, however I see no point in debating your
request. Mr Pirani explained your review rights in his letter of 10
January 2013. I suggest that you consider those rights.

Regards

Owen Jones

Owen Jones | Senior Lawyer

Legal Services Section | Legal & Compliance Branch

Australian Electoral Commission

T: (02) 6271 4528 | F: (02) 6293 7657

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

[1]Australian Electoral Commission logo [2]Australian Electoral
Commission

This email may contain legal advice that is subject to legal professional
privilege. Care should be taken to avoid unintended waiver of that
privilege. The Australian Electoral Commission’s Chief Legal Officer
should be consulted prior to any decision to disclose the existence or
content of any advice contained in this email to a third party.

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Michael Cordover left an annotation ()

With regards to the application of s 20, the AAT decision in QVFT v DIAC http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/sinodi... at [124] has the following: "It would constitute an unreasonable diversion of resources from the operations of DIAC to undertake the extensive further work the applicant wishes done for him. For that reason I affirm the decision not to accede to the request to provide copies of all documents in Microsoft® Word form."

It seems clear therefore that the reason for not providing access in Word form is s 20(3)(a) and that the interpretation in [119]-[120] is mere dicta. It's also important to note the distinguishing feature that in that case QVFT had not requested documents in a particular form when making the original request. In addition, QVFT's request for access in Word format in substance required the department to bring a new document into existence (albeit with the same content). There is no such requirement here.

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Mark Page left an annotation ()

It's possible that the original document wasn't typed in Microsoft Word.

Do you just want the contents of the PDF in a format where you can copy and paste the text, or do you want the metadata from the Word document? If the former, you might be able to ask them to paste the text into the body of an email, as was done here:

https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/d...

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Steven Roddis left an annotation ()

@Locutus Sum
I Believe the request is for a useable and accessible format.
Some people have problems with sight or comprehension. Images of a scanned document cannot easily be read by a machine to do things like enlarge text or text-to-speech.

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Things to do with this request

Anyone:
Australian Electoral Commission only: