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Freedom of Information

Freedom of Information

The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 gives a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities, sets out exemptions from that right and places a number of related obligations on public authorities including records management and the provision of publication schemes. The Act applies to any records held by the authority no matter when they were created.

From January 2005, any person who makes a request to a public authority for information must be informed whether the authority holds that information and, subject to exemptions, be supplied with that information.

Individuals already have the right to request information about themselves under the Data Protection Act 1998.

As far as public authorities are concerned, the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act will extend this right of access to non-personal information. Public authorities will be required to adopt and maintain a publication scheme, setting out the classes of information that are available, the manner in which they intend to publish the information and whether a charge will be made for the information.

The purpose of a publication scheme is to ensure that a significant amount of information is available without the need for a specific request. Schemes are intended to encourage organisations to publish more information proactively and to develop a greater culture of openness.