Main Forum >> Freedom Of Information Responses & Requests >> FOI Response - Ofcom

Message started by idb on Mar 6th, 2008 at 1:27pm

Title: FOI Response - Ofcom
Post by idb on Mar 6th, 2008 at 1:27pm
06 March 2008

Freedom of Information: Right to know request

Thank you for your request for information regarding regulation of 0870 numbers, which
Ofcom received on 6 December 2007 and has considered under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 (the Act).

In your request you asked for details about “activity that has led to the introduction of a
delay to 0870 regulation, including copies of representations made by industries seeking
such a delay”. You also ask “…when Ofcom first became aware that a pre-call
announcement….would impact its plans for consumer protection measures that were
intended for Feb 1, 2008”.

The issue was first brought to our attention on 10 September 2007, in connection with the
introduction of pre-call announcements for calls to 070 numbers. In accordance with
General Condition 17.12 and the National Telephone Numbering Plan, Communications
Providers were required to introduce these from 1 September 2007.

We were informed by FleXtel (a communications provider) that certain social alarm type
services which relied on auto-diallers were failing to operate correctly because the delay
introduced by the pre-call announcements caused the units to time out. Further details
about pre-call announcements on 070 numbers are on Ofcom’s website at

Ofcom subsequently commenced a review to determine whether the problems
encountered with 070 calls might also affect 0870 calls where pre-call announcements had
also been proposed.

On 25 October 2007, Ofcom told an industry working group called the
NTS Focus Group that it would need to delay the introduction of its 0870 proposals whilst it
undertook the review.

You can find more information in the meeting note for the NTS
Focus Group which is published on Ofcom’s website at:

On 14 November 2007, Ofcom also published a notice of the delay which is available on
Ofcom’s website at:

We are providing you with relevant information from within this timeframe (10 September
2007 to 25 October 2007). Some of this information was shared with us under our
regulatory powers by third parties. Ofcom has obtained consent to release some of this
information, but you will find that redactions have been made where consent has not been

Where consent has not been given, this information is being withheld as it falls under the
exemption in section 44 of the Act, which provides that information which we hold on this
subject is exempt from disclosure since it was shared with us under our regulatory
power and disclosure is prohibited under section 393 of the Communications Act 2003.
Section 44 is an absolute exemption under the Act and does not require a public interest

Names of some individuals have also been redacted, based on section 40 of the Act,
which relates to personal data.

Some parts of the information that you requested are being withheld as they fall under the
exemption in section 42 of the Freedom of Information Act. This part of the Act deals with
the exemption of information in respect of which a claim to legal professional privilege
could be maintained in legal proceedings. In applying this exemption we have had to
balance the public interest in withholding the information against the public interest in
disclosing the information. The attached annex (see Annex A) to this letter sets out the
exemption in full, as well as the factors Ofcom considered when deciding where the public
interest lay.

It is likely that other exemptions will apply.

Please also note that some sections of the document have been redacted, where the
information is not relevant to your request. The redactions will be marked by [….] in these

You should ensure that when using the provided information in any way, including
publishing the information, you comply with all relevant legislation. For example, the
information provided may be protected by copyright under the Copyright, Designs and
Patents Act 1988 (as amended). If in doubt, please seek independent legal advice. For
Ofcom’s policy on copyright and related issues, please refer to our website at

If, having read this information, you have any queries, please let me know. Please quote
the reference number above in any future correspondence.

Annex A

Section 42 – Information in respect of which a claim to legal professional privilege
could be maintained in legal proceedings is exempt information.

Factors for disclosure

Open policy making and public
confidence in regulated activities.

Factors for withholding

Ofcom considers the request for
Ofcom’s internal legal advice is a
request for information of which a
claim to legal professional privilege
could be maintained in legal
proceedings. It is advice given by
Ofcom’s own salaried in-house legal
advisers and is connected with the
giving or obtaining of legal advice.


Title: Re: FOI Response - Ofcom
Post by idb on Mar 6th, 2008 at 2:03pm

Reasons why public interest favours withholding information

It is in the public interest that policy decisions taken by Ofcom are taken in a fully
informed legal context, where relevant. Ofcom therefore needs high quality
effectively obtained legal advice for the effective conduct of its business. That
advice needs to be given in context, and with a full appreciation of the facts. It
needs to be sought and given in a timely fashion to ensure that policy develops in a
fully informed way.

Legal advice cannot be effectively obtained unless Ofcom is able to put all the facts
before its in-house legal advisers without fear that they may afterwards be
disclosed and used to its prejudice. Without such effectively obtained advice, the
quality of Ofcom’s decision making would be much reduced because it would not
be fully informed and this would be contrary to the public interest.

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