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Freedom of Information

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The Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 give the general public the right to obtain information held by public authorities unless there are good reasons to keep it confidential. It is possible that MAST users may receive request to release information derived from MAST Online under this legislation.

Detailed guidance on how to manange requests under FOI can be obtained from the Information Commissioner's Office.

FOI exemptions

Some of the circumstances where information might not have to be disclosed are:

  • The request would take too long to produce (as specified in Section 10 of the 2000 Act)
  • The information is reasonably available elsewhere (as specified in Section 21 of the 2000 Act)
  • Disclosing the information would damage a commercial interest (as specified in Section 43 of the 2000 Act)

There are also a number of other exemptions which apply in particular circumstances.

FOI requests for MAST data

Should users routinely disclose MAST data under FOI? There are three main circumstances where this question could arise:

  • If users receive FOI requests related exclusively to crashes occurring within a single authority or force area, where the requests do not require Mosaic socio-demographic profile information, then existing internal procedures for FOI on STATS19 would apply, and whether the information was derived from MAST or not would be immaterial.
  • If users receive FOI requests related to crashes across wider areas, where the requests do not require Mosaic socio-demographic profile information, such requests could be referred under Section 21 to other relevant authorities or to DfT, who already have to deal with STATS19 related FOI requests which cover the entire UK. In particular, the answers to many such requests are freely available from STATS19 datasets published on the government data website.
  • If users receive FOI requests which seek to obtain Mosaic Profile information, then a commercial exception under Section 43 already applies. Mosaic Public Sector is a proprietary dataset produced and sold commercially by Experian, which has been licensed for distribution only in the context of MAST. The analytical algorithm which has been applied to Mosaic data is the intellectual property of Road Safety Analysis, which MAST member organisations access by subscription. If all such data could be exposed for free simply through FOI, it would create a disastrous precedent: commercial confidentiality would be fatally undermined and companies which supply data to the public sector could become very reluctant to continue working in such partnerships.
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