Request for mobile communications via mobile applications

Ben Fairless made this Freedom of Information request to Minister for Defence

Minister for Defence did not have the information requested.

From: Ben Fairless

Delivered

Dear Minister for Defence,

Can you please provide a copy of all inbound and outbound chats in the 7 days prior to this request that was sent or received from the minister using any of the below applications:
- WhatsApp
- Facebook Messneger
- Signal
- Telegram
- Grindr
- Scruff
- Tinder
- Email Accounts without a .gov.au email address?

Please initially process these requests informally. I understand the AG advised the senate that the communications were "trivial" so I don't anticipate any exemptions being applied. If the request can't be processed informally, please treat it as a formal FOI request.

Yours faithfully,

Ben Fairless

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From: Davidson, Melissa MRS
Minister for Defence

UNCLASSIFIED

Good afternoon Mr Fairless
 
I refer to your email dated 19 October 2016 where you sought access to
inbound and outbound chats sent to or received from the Minister for
Defence using a number of applications.
 
Your email has been received and is currently being considered.
 
A response will be provided to you in due course.
 
Yours sincerely
 
 
FOI @defence.gov.au
(02) 62662200
[1]http://www.defence.gov.au/foi/

IMPORTANT: This email remains the property of the Department of Defence
and is subject to the jurisdiction of section 70 of the Crimes Act 1914.
If you have received this email in error, you are requested to contact the
sender and delete the email.

References

Visible links
1. blocked::http://www.defence.gov.au/foi/
http://www.defence.gov.au/foi/

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Minister for Defence

UNCLASSIFIED

Good afternoon Mr Fairless,

I refer to your email dated 19 October 2016 where you sought access to
inbound and outbound chats sent to or received from the Minister for
Defence using a number of applications.

The Minister is considering your request; however, to allow her sufficient
time to finalise your matter I seek a 7-day extension in accordance with
section 15AA [extension of time with agreement] of the FOI Act. Should you
agree to the extension, the statutory deadline for you to receive a
response would be 25 November 2016.

Grateful for your early consideration of the above.

Regards,

Adviser to the Minister for Defence.

show quoted sections

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From: Ben Fairless

Delivered

Dear Minister for Defence,

I agree to a 7 day extension.

Yours sincerely,

Ben Fairless

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Minister for Defence

UNCLASSIFIED

Dear Mr Fairless

 

Further to my email of 16 November 2016 where I sought a seven-day
extension to respond to your FOI request of 19 October 2016, and you
kindly agreed to this, I now write to advise you that I have now had an
opportunity to consider your request.

 

I am authorised by the Minister for Defence, under section 23 of the
Freedom of Information Act 1982 [the FOI Act], to make decisions on her
behalf relating to the granting or refusal of access to documents in
accordance with a request received under section 15 of the FOI Act.

 

Your request was for:

“a copy of all inbound and outbound chats in the 7 days prior to this
request that was sent or received from the minister using any of the below
applications:

- WhatsApp

- Facebook Messenger

- Signal

- Telegram

- Grindr

- Scruff

- Tinder

- Email Accounts without a .gov.au email address?”

 

I must advise you that, under section 24AA of the FOI Act and for the
purposes of section 24 of the FOI Act, I consider that a 'practical
refusal reason' exists in relation to your FOI request.  Specifically, I
consider that the work involved in processing the request in its current
form would substantially and unreasonably interfere with the performance
of the Minister’s functions.

 

The request would substantially and unreasonably divert resources in the
Minister’s office because you have requested material from a variety of
social media messaging services as well as email messages.  The Minister
receives several hundred communications from various sources on a daily
basis.  Not only in her capacity as the Minister for Defence, but also in
her role as Senator and in a private capacity (the latter two of which are
not subject to the FOI Act).  To respond to your request, the Minister
would have to conduct searches across any of the mediums you have
identified that she uses to ascertain whether any of those messages are
captured by the scope of your request.

 

Such searches would require the specialist attention of the Minister
herself in that only she has access to her personal communication tools. 
This effort would be a substantial and unreasonable diversion of the
Minister’s time and would seriously impair her ability to discharge her
normal functions.

 

In accordance with section 24AB of the FOI Act, this office is required to
consult with you advising of the intention to refuse access to your
request in its current form.

 

In accordance with paragraph 24AB(2)(c) of the FOI Act, I am the nominated
person whom you should contact with a view to agreeing to one of the
following options:

 

a)         withdraw your request

b)         revise your request; or

c)         indicate that you do not wish to revise your request.

 

In accordance with section 24AB(9) of the FOI Act, this office is only
required to undertake this consultation process once, and you must contact
me within 14 days to discuss.

 

Please contact the office if you would like to discuss any aspects of this
request.

 

Yours sincerely

 

FOI Officer
Senator the Hon Marise Payne

Minister for Defence  :  Senator for New South Wales

Tel: (02) 6277 7800  

Suite M1.49, Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600 

 
 

IMPORTANT: This email remains the property of the Department of Defence
and is subject to the jurisdiction of section 70 of the Crimes Act 1914.
If you have received this email in error, you are requested to contact the
sender and delete the email.

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From: Ben Fairless

Delivered

Dear Minister for Defence,

I refer to your offer to consult with me as a practical refusal reason may exist under the Freedom of Information Act.

The process to determine if I have these apps installed on my mobile device took all of 5 minutes. This can be done (on an iPhone device) by acquiring the device, and swiping across each "home screen" on the device to determine if the relevant icon is present. With respect to the last item on my list, as someone in the Minister's office, I would assume you know if the Minister uses a private email server to conduct Government business. If it assists getting us over the line, we can strike that off?

The reason you say this is unreasonable is because you would need to assess each and every message. I note the OAIC Guidelines state that "Poor record keeping or an inefficient filing system would not of themselves provide grounds for a claim that identifying or locating documents would be a substantial and unreasonable diversion of resources."

You have also not advised if the Minster A) uses any of the platforms listed or B) how many messages are there. If the Minister only used one of the platforms and sent 10 messages (for example) how in the world could this be considered an unreasonble diversion of resources?!

You seem to be implying that anything that requires the minister's personal direction could cause issues, however I note that it's sometimes possible to perform searches using specialised software without requiring the device to be present (except for a backup).

I'm confused about how I can limit the scope of my request. I've kept it to a very short time frame and limited the scope of applications. I also note that the Attorney-General says that communication would be "Unremarkable". Can you offer a suggestion about how this request can be narrowed?

Yours sincerely,

Ben Fairless

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Minister for Defence

UNCLASSIFIED

Dear Mr Fairless,

I refer to your email dated 1 December where you requested advice on a
revised scope for your FOI request related to inbound and outbound chats
sent to or received from the Minister for Defence using a number of
applications.

I seek a 28 day extension on your query because the Minister for Defence
has been treated for an illness, and has not had an opportunity to
consider your request. Should you agree to the extension, the deadline
would be 6 January 2017.

Regards,

Adviser to the Minister for Defence.

IMPORTANT: This email remains the property of the Department of Defence
and is subject to the jurisdiction of section 70 of the Crimes Act 1914.
If you have received this email in error, you are requested to contact the
sender and delete the email.

IMPORTANT: This email remains the property of the Department of Defence
and is subject to the jurisdiction of section 70 of the Crimes Act 1914.
If you have received this email in error, you are requested to contact the
sender and delete the email.

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From: Ben Fairless

Delivered

Dear Adviser to the Minister for Defence,

I understand that and FOI Officer in the Ministers office (I'm not sure if it's the same one as you don't provide your names) made a decision that there was a 'practical refusal reason'. Can the FOI Officer not provide further guidance without seeking the Minister's personal involvement? I'm looking for advice from the person who told me that I've asked for too much.

I understand the Minister is unwell, however this shouldn't affect processing under the FOI Act, as the Minister herself isn't responding to my correspondence currently.

I also note that this request is not "voluminous or complex" and therefore if a request to the OAIC is made for an extension of time, I request that you provide them with a copy of this email and note my request to be consulted further.

Yours sincerely,

Ben Fairless

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Minister for Defence


Attachment 1617 Statement of Reasons.pdf
138K Download View as HTML


UNCLASSIFIED

Good afternoon Mr Fairless,

I refer to your email dated 19 October 2016 where you sought access to
inbound and outbound chats sent to or received from the Minister for
Defence using a number of applications.

Please find attached the decision and Statement of Reasons in regards to
the request.

Regards,

Adviser to the Minister for Defence.

IMPORTANT: This email remains the property of the Department of Defence
and is subject to the jurisdiction of section 70 of the Crimes Act 1914.
If you have received this email in error, you are requested to contact the
sender and delete the email.

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