ICO News

Stop using spreadsheets in FOI responses, Information … – Local Government Lawyer

The Information Commissioner, John Edwards, has issued an advisory notice to public authorities calling for an immediate end to the use of original source excel spreadsheets when responding publicly to Freedom of Information Act (FOI) requests.

The Information Commissioner’s notice follows a number of recent high profile personal data breaches, where personal information was inadvertently included in spreadsheets that were shared as part of a FOI response.

The advisory notice includes recommendations that public organisations should:

  • immediately stop uploading original source spreadsheets to online platforms used to respond to FOI requests;
  • continually provide training to staff who are involved with disclosing information
  • avoid using spreadsheets with hundreds or thousands of rows and instead invest in data management systems which support data integrity.

John Edwards, Information Commissioner, said: “The recent personal data breaches are a reminder that data protection is, first and foremost, about people. We have seen both the immediate and ongoing impact that the release of such sensitive personal information has had on the individuals and families involved, and that is why I have taken this action.

“It is imperative that robust measures are in place to protect personal information. The advice we have issued sets out the bare minimum that public authorities should be doing to protect personal data when responding to information access requests, and to reassure the people they serve, and their staff, that their information is in safe hands.”

The full advisory note is available on the ICO website along with additional guidance on how to disclose information safely.


This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.