FOI snapshot – What are reasonably practicable measures?

September, 2014

Key points:

In ‘BZ’ and Department of Immigration and Border Protection [2014] AICmr 55, the applicant sought access under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) to footage of him at the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre.

The Information Commissioner accepted the Department’s claim that the footage contained images of a third party who was reasonably identifiable and that the footage was therefore conditionally exempt under s 47F of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth). The issue then became whether any “reasonably practicable measures” existed for the Department to de-identify this information under s 22 of the FOI Act.

The Department contended that it would not be reasonably practicable to edit the footage because it would incur significant expenditure (estimated to be $3,789 for 7 minutes of footage on the basis of $9 per edited second of vision).

The Commissioner did not accept this argument because its office identified an internal method to edit a copy of the footage in under an hour using software that cost less than $100 per user. Accordingly, the Commissioner found that it would be neither costly nor onerous to edit the footage and it provided a copy of the edited footage to the Department for it to release to the applicant.

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