FOI requests by Twitter are acceptable according to the ICO.

If you are not responsible for the Twitter Account or FOI in your organisation pass this on to somebody who is.

This follows on from our recent article on Tweeting underlying the growing importance of the new medium to your organisation.

It’s now even more important for public sector organizations to provide a Twitter account.

In July’s newsletter from the Information Commissioner Office 28.7.2011 it’s made clear that it’s permissible for the public to use Twitter for a  Freedom Of Information (FOI) Request.

Even more serious is that it’s permissible to make that request using an @mention as Twitter allows the authority to check for @mentions of itself, and so it has in effect received that request, even though it was not sent directly to the authority like an email or letter.”

What this means is a council’s Twitter account is deemed by the ICO to be a satisfactory communications channel and as such should be monitored and managed. Given the clock starts ticking on the day after such a tweet is put up on Twitter, councils should be monitoring those accounts on a very regular basis if some of the 20 working days allowed are not to be lost. If you don’t check you wont see the FOI come in.

Articles discussing this issue here..

http://blogs.journalism.co.uk/editors/2011/07/29/can-foi-requests-be-submitted-on-twitter-yes-says-ico/

And a contrary view here…

http://davidhiggerson.wordpress.com/2011/08/03/foi-via-a-tweet-a-silly-flight-of-fancy-surely/

No matter what your opinion the ICO has ruled and you are obliged to comply.

Are you Ready?

Peter Barton
Ex Head of Web and Information Governance (Including all things FOI)
Lincolnshire County Council

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