Q&As

Can a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 be submitted via social media?

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Published on LexisPSL on 02/06/2016

The following Local Government Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Can a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 be submitted via social media?
  • Request ‘in writing’
  • Name of requester
  • Address for correspondence
  • Twitter

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) guidance ICO—Recognising a request made under the Freedom of Information Act (Section 8) has a section on handling requests submitted via social media. It states that requests for information to social media accounts operated by public authorities will be valid, provided that they meet the criteria in section 8 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FIA 2000).

FIA 2000, s 8 states that for the purpose of the Act, a ‘request for information’ is a reference to a request which:

  1. is in writing

  2. states the name of the applicant/requester and provide an address for correspondence, and

  3. describes the information requested

Request ‘in writing’

Under FIA 2000, s 8(2), a request is treated as made ‘in writing’ where the text of the request is:

  1. transmitted by electronic means

  2. received in legible form, and

  3. capable of being used for subsequent reference

The ICO guidance confirms that the term ‘in writing’ includes requests sent via social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Name of requester

The ICO guidance indicates that for a request to be valid, the requester must provide enough of their real name to give anyone reading it a reasonable indication of their identity. If the person processing the request cannot identify the r

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