The Freedom of Information Act 2000 was passed to make provision for the disclosure of information held by public authorities or by persons providing services for them and to amend the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Public Records Act 1958; and for connected purposes.
In summary, the Act:
- Establishes a right to information
- Sets out exemptions from that right
- Provides for the release of exempt information in the public interest
- Requires the issue of Codes of Practice
- Establishes the role of the Information Commissioner
- Amends the Data Protection Act 1998
About the Freedom of Information Act
The Freedom of Information Act enables people to gain access to information held by public authorities in two ways. From 1 January 2005, people have had the right to make a request for any information held by a public authority (although this right is subject to a number of exemptions which permit the withholding of information) and the authority will have to comply with the Act in responding. Prior to that, in the run up to January 2005, every public authority must make some information available as a matter of course through a publication scheme with information included in the publication scheme being routinely made available to anyone who consults it. A publication scheme is both a public commitment to make certain information available and a guide to how that information can be obtained
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 is intended to promote a culture of openness and accountability amongst public sector bodies by providing people with rights of access to the information held by them. It is expected that these rights will facilitate better public understanding of how public authorities carry out their duties, why they make the decisions they do and how they spend public money.
GSNI's position on Freedom of Information (FOI)
GSNI, as a body within the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI), is governed by DETI on all matters relating to FOI. DETI has established an FOI team within the Information Management Branch whose role is to provide the whole Department with information, guidance and assistance on the Freedom of Information Act and its effect on the Department's work.