Information

Information regarding Scottish Government intranet page: FOI review

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002


Information requested

Your request, reference 202100244010
I am looking for some information about the Scottish Government’s intranet page.

Can you release information about who can access to the intranet? Are you able to say how many people in total?

Can you release the questions asked and results of any and all polls on the Intranet between January 2021 and the present?

For each of these polls can you release any comments left by readers?

Can you indicate if these comments were deleted by the person in charge of the intranet.

Your review request, reference 
202100254583
I've not had a response to this FOI request. It's now long overdue. Can I ask for a review?

Response

I apologise for the delay in responding to your request. It was overlooked as a result of an administrative error, as we originally thought that it fell within another team’s area of responsibility. In future, we will ensure that requests are scrutinised more closely at an earlier stage to avoid the prospect of cases being overlooked.

In accordance with section 21(4) of FOISA, I have also reached a decision on your request and can now provide you with a response.

Attached is a copy of most of the information requested. Annex A provides information about who can access the Scottish Government’s intranet, and how many use it. Annex B contains polls, poll results and comments posted on the intranet in response to poll results from 1 January to 30 September 2021.

Some of the information you have requested is already available on the Scottish Government’s website. Comments posted on the intranet in response to a poll published during week commencing 7 June 2021 about the use of pronouns on email signatures are available via this link https://www.gov.scot/publications/foi-202100225976/. Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because exemptions under section 38(1)(b) (personal information) and 39(1) (health and safety) of FOISA apply to that information. The reasons why those exemptions apply are set out below.

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to a small amount of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, ie the names of staff who left comments who are in grades below the Senior Civil Service, and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018. This exemption is not subject to the ‘public interest test’, so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.

An exemption under section 39(1) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested (comments deleted in line with our moderation policy by our moderators) on the basis that disclosure would, or would be likely to, endanger the physical or mental health or safety of an individual, even if not intended. Having determined at the time of the poll that these could have caused distress to a number of staff, we consider that making these public through an information release would be likely to have a detrimental impact on the mental wellbeing of those staff.

This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemptions. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in ensuring that the mental wellbeing of staff is not harmed by putting into the public domain information which has previously been removed by moderators and which is not freely available within the Scottish Government as a consequence. We consider that there is no public interest in disclosing information when that will lead to harm to the mental wellbeing of staff – not the staff who left the comments, but those affected by them.

About FOI
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.

FOI202100254583 - Annex A & B

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG

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