Some information is exempt from disclosure, for instance if its release would seriously prejudice the commercial interests of any person or organisation or breach the Data Protection Act, 1998.
The Act contains 17 exemptions to the right to access information. For example, information may be exempt from disclosure if:
- its release would prejudice substantially law enforcement, legal proceedings or regulatory or enforcement activity or where the disclosure is otherwise prohibited by law
- disclosure would breach the law of confidentiality or prejudice substantially the commercial interests of any person or organisation
- it is personal information under the Data Protection Act 1998
- it is information that may endanger the physical or mental health or the safety of an individual
- it may prejudice substantially the effective conduct of public affairs
Some exemptions apply to all information in a specific class or category. For example, information that is "otherwise accessible" because it is reasonably obtainable in accordance with the University's publication scheme.
Other exemptions are based on the content of the information. For example, a document may contain some information that would "prejudice substantially" the commercial interests of the University or another body if the information were disclosed.
Before we decide whether to withhold that information we must apply the public interest test. The information must be disclosed unless the public interest in withholding the information is greater than that in releasing it.
Some exemptions that apply to all information in a specific class or category are absolute. This means that they are not subject to the public interest test. One example is where disclosure of information is prohibited by other legislation.
One of the exemptions to the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act is information that is defined as personal data under the Data Protection Act 1998. The Data Protection Act applies to the whole of the UK. The UK Information Commissioner is responsible for enforcing Data Protection.
If you wish to access any personal information that the University holds about you, you can make a data subject access request under the Data Protection Act.
If you wish to access information about another living person, you can make a request under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act.
We will refuse to disclose this information if, by releasing it, we would breach the Data Protection principles set out in the Data Protection Act 1998. The Data Protection Act 1998 applies to the whole of the UK and is enforced by the Information Commissioner's Office.
For more information and advice about how we use staff and students' personal data contact the FOI & Data Protection Officer.