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DP/FOI specialism opens to applicants

19 April 10

Introducing the Society's latest accreditation

by Kenneth Meechan

There is a library in the Councillors’ Corridor of Glasgow City Chambers. The ornate Victorian fireplace in this room has two inscriptions carved on it, which read: “Knowledge is Power” and “The Truth will Prevail”.

About seven years ago, as we began to discuss how we would deal with the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, one of my colleagues argued that the two statements are mutually contradictory: if knowledge is truly power, those who have it can use that power to stop the truth from coming out.

I disagreed then, and I still do. But either way, it is clear that the 2002 Act (and its 2000 UK counterpart) represented a clear shift in the balance of power between the citizen and the state – continuing a tradition in which the Data Protection Act 1998 was another milestone.

Both data protection and FOI have matured considerably since then, and together they form a complete (and sometimes contradictory) legal framework for the use of information in this country. Against this background, it is timely that the Society is now accepting applications from solicitors seeking to become accredited as specialists in this area.

Accredited specialists will be expected to have, at both detailed and strategic level, knowledge and experience showing exceptional understanding and practical application of data protection and FOI laws, and knowledge of legal aspects of closely related topics such as records management and information security.

A panel has been established to consider applications, which are now invited from appropriate practitioners. The panel recognise that some practitioners will have greater knowledge of one area rather than the other. While the panel may revisit this point, at present it is expected that applicants will be able to demonstrate a degree of expertise in both data protection and freedom of information.

Further information can be downloaded from the Society’s website – search for “specialisations” – and the application form (standard for all specialist disciplines) can be downloaded as a Word document. As well as the detailed information on the form itself, two referees must be nominated.

The panel look forward to applications from those who feel they are suitably qualified.

  • Dr Kenneth Meechan is Head of Information Governance at Glasgow City Council and is convener of the accreditation panel

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