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Personal data disclosed under Data Protection Act, not FOI

Government 20 Apr, 2023 Follow News

Personal data disclosed under Data Protection Act, not FOI

The Ombudsman has ordered the release of certain personal information to an applicant for a government job in the Mosquito Research and Control Unit of the Ministry of Health.

Ombudsman Sharon Roulstone stated in her hearing decision on the matter that while the request for a full record under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act was denied, certain information contained in the record was determined to be the personal data of the FOI Act applicant and was required to be disclosed under the Data Protection Act (DPA).

The government job-seeker requested a number of records in relation to his application for the position, for which he was ultimately unsuccessful. The government Ministry replying to the FOI request eventually disclosed some records to the applicant, but denied access to parts of a record stating their release would prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs and harm the public interest in relation to the disclosure of a confidential discussion of opinions during a job recruitment process.  

“Although the appeal under the FOI Act was ultimately unsuccessful, the law recognizes that applicants still have the right to access their own personal data,” Ms. Roulstone noted. “This includes the opinions and views of others about him, but not information that is focused on the recruitment process, rather than the applicant.”

Also, unlike the usual approach under the FOI Act, the information disclosed under the DPA as personal data is only disclosed to the applicant. Successful appeals for information under the FOI Act are normally released to the general public. Government was given 10 days to release the additional records to the applicant, which has now been done.

Separately, the Ombudsman also noted significant delays in this hearing on the part of the Ministry of Health and Wellness, which took more than a year to release a heavily redacted report to the applicant and caused significant delays in responding to the Office of the Ombudsman. As a result, the appeal under the FOI Act, in total, took almost two years to resolve.

You can read the full text of the decision here: https://ombudsman.ky/images/pdf/decisions/FOI_Decisions/Hearing%2096-202100364.pdf

Any member of the public wishing to submit an appeal of a government decision on an FOI request may phone the Ombudsman at 946-6283 or email info@ombudsman.ky . For more information about Cayman’s FOI Act or the Data Protection Act, please see our website at www.ombudsman.ky

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