Friday, September 15, 2006

Information Commissioner rules against Ofcom on mobile phone base stations

Press release from the ICO, no full text of the decision available as yet, the decision was made under the Environmental Information Regulations rather than FOI. Ii is also interesting that it relates to a full set of data held in database and the intellectual property defence in using an exemption (I presume S43) has been rejected. This is also interesting in relation to the current "Free our Data campaign".

The Information Commissioner has served a Decision Notice under the Environmental Information Regulations ordering Ofcom to provide all data on mobile phone base stations held within its Sitefinder database. Cellular base stations receive and transmit signals to and from mobile phones. The Sitefinder database was set up in response to the Stewart Report. The report set out the findings of the Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones which was established to assess the state of research into possible health risks from mobile phones.

In reaching his decision, the Commissioner carefully considered each reason that Ofcom put forward for withholding grid references and the database in its entirety in a searchable format. These included national security, public safety and intellectual property rights. The Commissioner decided that none of the exceptions cited by Ofcom were appropriately applied. As with the Freedom of Information Act, the Environmental Information Regulations contain a presumption in favour of disclosure.

The Information Commissioner found that Ofcom has not presented sufficient evidence to suggest there is a particular risk to the security of base stations, particularly in light of the information that is already available in the public domain. The Commissioner also determined that, although database rights and copyright exist, this should not prevent Ofcom from disclosing the requested information.

1 comment:

Lucy said...

Do we know who made the complaint?