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Section 102 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 adds new provisions to the Freedom of Information Act regarding datasets. These new provisions are about how information is released, rather than what information is released. They only relate to information that the Council holds as a dataset and they are about the re-use of those datasets that the Council provides in response to a request or under a publication scheme.

What is a dataset?

A dataset is a collection of factual information in electronic form to do with the services and functions of the Council that is neither the product of analysis or interpretation, nor an official statistic and has not been materially altered.  For example, postcodes and references used to identify properties, spend data, lists of assets and FOI request lists.  Information which was created in response to a FOI request is not considered to be a dataset.

What has changed?

If the Council is providing information that constitutes a dataset and the requestor has expressed a preference to receive the information in electronic form, the Council must provide it in a re-useable form so far as reasonably practicable.  A re-useable form means that the dataset is machine readable and based on open standards such as CSV (comma separated value).  Datasets that have been requested, and any updated versions held should be published under the Council's publication scheme.  However, exemptions contained in the FOI Act are still applicable and data will not be disclosed where an exemption applies.

What about re-use and licensing?

If the dataset is a relevant copyright work, the Council must provide it under the terms of a specified licence.  The Open Government Licence (OGL) is the default licence for datasets that can be re-used without charge.

The Information Commissioner's Office has published some helpful guidance regarding datasets.

Dataset Disclosure Log

Updated: 31 Jul 2018
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