The Freedom of Information Act 2000 refers to information recorded and held by public authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and by UK-wide public authorities based in Scotland. Since the act refers to information held in electronic files, paper files, letters, emails, photographs, and sound recordings, the principles laid out in the freedom of information (FOI) Act can be applied as best practice for all types of organisations – no matter where they’re based.
Public authorities include government departments, local authorities, the NHS, state schools and the police force. However, it’s important to remember that FOI regulations don’t necessarily cover every organisation that receives public money. For example, it does not cover charities or private sector organisations that receive funding from the government to carry out particular functions.
The Freedom of Information Act legislation works in corresponding ways: on the one hand, it asserts that public authorities must publish certain information about themselves and make it available for public consumption, and, on the other, it directs that members of the public are entitled to request and access information from public authorities. It is important to remember, however, that the Act does not entitle members of the public to access their own personal data; this information is subject to Data Protection and information security regulation instead.