Part 2 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 sets out categories of ‘exempt information’, that is, information which the Authority is not obliged to disclose. Some of the categories have ‘absolute exemption’ from disclosure. This means that if information falls into one of these categories the Authority can automatically refuse to disclose it.
If the information falls into one of the other categories, then the Authority has to apply the public interest test.
- Section 21 – Information that is already reasonably accessible e.g. information covered by the publication scheme
- Section 23 – Information supplied by, or relating to bodies dealing with security matters
- Section 32 – Court records
- Section 34 – Parliamentary privilege
- Section 36 – Information likely to prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs
- Section 40 – Personal information. Individuals cannot access personal data about themselves under the Freedom of Information Act as there is a separate right of access under the Data Protection Act 1998. Personal data about third parties cannot be released if to do so would breach any of the data protection principles. Where it is considered that the release would breach any of the data protection principles, it is not necessary to apply the public interest test
- Section 41 – Information provided in confidence
- Section 44 – Legal prohibitions on disclosure (such as where disclosure would constitute contempt of Court)