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What the DCSF knows about me

Martin Rosenbaum | 14:22 UK time, Wednesday, 14 November 2007

I mentioned yesterday that under the Data Protection Act I'd obtained from the Department for Children, Schools and Families information they hold about me. (And since in the past I've been scornful about how the DCSF's predecessor, the Department for Education and Skills, has handled various FOI applications, I ought to state that the DCSF seems to have handled my data protection request professionally and co-operatively.) Other points of interest in this material included:

• FOI is meant to be 'applicant-blind', and some FOI officers are punctilious about ignoring the identity of the person seeking information. Yet, although I sent a request from my home address and it was not made in the course of my BBC work, DfES officials who emailed each other about it kept referring to me as a journalist, even if they seemed confused about what journalism I did (one wrongly asserted I worked on Panorama, another referred to me as 'political editor at the BBC'). Maybe they just surmised I might end up writing about it anyway ...

• The fact that the Information Commissioner's Office took over a year to start investigating a complaint from me meant that the DfES at first assumed I had taken over a year to complain to the ICO.

• After I recently recounted some of my experiences with the DfES, one official who found it 'interesting' emailed another to say 'I'm sure we can expect more'. Sorry not to have delivered on that until now.

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