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Freedom of Information and Data Protection: the difference

Freedom of Information covers information held by public authorities, but not requests for personal information about the person making the request.

Data Protection law protects personal data. It gives you the legal right to access information held about you (by making a subject access request) and, in some cases, to prevent your personal information being seen, used or processed by other people.

You cannot obtain your own personal information by making a Freedom of Information request. You need to make a Data Protection subject access request.

If you ask for personal information about someone else, then your request will be handled under Freedom of Information law, but the Data Protection principles will be applied to assess whether that information can be disclosed. If disclosing the information would mean breaking the Data Protection law, your request will be refused.

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