The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has launched a formal investigation into the use of private correspondence channels at the Department for Health and Social Care. The investigation will determine if such channels have been used and if so, whether their use led to breaches of freedom of information or data protection law. The ICO has served information notices on the department and others to preserve evidence relevant to the inquiry.
Whilst the use of private correspondence channels does not specifically break any data protection or freedom of information rules, the UK Information Commissioner has expressed concerns that information in private email accounts or messaging services is forgotten, overlooked, auto-deleted or otherwise not available when a freedom of information request is later made. This potential lack of transparency, as well as the security implications of personal detail not being properly secured in people’s personal email accounts, will form the basis of this ICO enquiry.