The Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, announced last week that private emails are covered by FoI laws. This clarification in FoI law allows researchers, academics, campaigners and journalists to request the private emails of government officials.
The information commissioner has decided to allow email requests into FoI law since the revelations that members of the Department of Education, headed by Michael Gove, were encouraged to share important information via email in an attempt to avoid FoI requests.
Commenting on the news, Mr Graham stated: “It should not come as a surprise to public authorities to have the clarification that information held in private email accounts can be subject to Freedom of Information law if it relates to official business. This has always been the case – the Act covers all recorded information in any form”.
Surprisingly, some FoI campaigners have interpreted ‘all information’ to include text messages and even post-it-notes.
Guidance regarding FoI requests and private emails can be found on the Information Commissioner’s website — just follow the links.