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The day in FoIA: Police corruption, undercover infiltration of protest group and Michael Gove withdraws his appeal against ICO

‘Shocking’ level of Met police suspensions revealed

Nearly 50 Metropolitan Police officers were suspended for corruption over a three-year period, it emerged today.

Figures show that 49 officers were suspended over the allegation, with 15 cases proven, 18 unproven and 16 ongoing.

The details, released under the Freedom of Information Act, show that a total of 258 were officers suspended between 2009-11 for offences including sexual assault, harassment and neglect or failure in duty.

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Jennifer Cockerell | The Independent | 29th September 2012

Police mistake in FoI response reveals undercover operation to infiltrate extremist animal rights group

A police mistake in a response to a Freedom of Information request accidentally exposed an undercover operation to infiltrate a group of animal rights extremists.

The police force – which has not been named – released a report with sensitive information blacked out after a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

But when the report by the Office of Surveillance Commissioners (OSC) was copied and pasted into another document, the redactions disappeared and the sensitive information was revealed.

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The Daily Mail | 29th September 2012

Michael Gove accepts his private emails can be searched

Michael Gove is withdrawing his appeal against the Information Commissioner’s ruling that his private emails were searchable under the Freedom of Information Act, I understand.

The Education Secretary has decided to do this because the Cabinet Office has concluded that anything that constitutes ‘information’ falls within the scope of the act which removes Gove’s ground for appeal.

In other words, if two ministers, or a minister and a special adviser, email or text each other from their personal accounts or phones and that conversation involves any discussion of government business—however, fleeting or peripheral—then those texts are FOI able. I’m informed that new Cabinet Office guidance to this effect will be issued in the near future.

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James Forsyth | The Spectator | 28th September 2012

US: Records Show a Spike in the Use of Warrantless Surveillance 

The American Civil Liberties Union released a tranche of law enforcement records on the use of two increasingly popular surveillance methods that don’t require a warrant: pen registers and trap and trace devices.

The names are a bit misleading. In the past, these were, in fact, devices — little boxes that law enforcement affixed to phone lines to covertly record incoming and outgoing phone numbers. But now the interception capabilities are built in the phone companies’ hardware.

The records, which the ACLU obtained through a Freedom of Information Act Request (and subsequent litigation over that request), show a sharp increase in the use of pen registers and trap and trace devices across federal law enforcement agencies.

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Joe Palazzolo | Wall Street Journal | 27th September 2012

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