Line to take - LTT30 - Disclosure of Vehicle Identification Numbers

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  • FOI/EIR: FOI
  • Section/Regulation: s31
  • Issue: Disclosure of vehicle identification numbers
  • Source: Information Tribunal
  • Details: Hogan / Oxford City Council 17/10/2006
  • Related Lines to Take: LTT19, LTT20
  • Related Documents: EA/2005/0026 and EA/2005/0030, FS50067004
  • Contact: LA
  • Date: 16/02/2007
  • Policy Reference: LTT30
  • © Copyright Information Commissioner's Office, re-used with permission
  • Original source linked from here: LTT


Line to take

In considering the application of the s31 exemption for requests for VINs there will be a need to consider the extent to which this information is already accessible and in the public domain, and the extent to which the risks associated with cloning vehicles would be increased by the release of the requested information.

Further Information

In considering the application of the s31 exemption for requests for VINs there will be a need to consider for each individual case:

  • the extent to which, at the date of the request, this information is already accessible and in the public domain; and
  • the extent to which the risks associated with cloning vehicles would be increased by release of the requested information.

In Hogan vs ICO & Oxford City Council a request had been made for VINs together with other information such as registration numbers, makes and models. The Tribunal upheld the ICO’s decision that the VINs should not be released as disclosure would be likely to prejudice the prevention of detection of crime.

It considered that VINs could be used, in conjunction with other vehicle details, in the criminal activity of cloning* vehicles. It also acknowledged, however, that VINs were to some extent already in the public domain as specific VINs could be obtained from vehicle windscreens or could be confirmed via internet websites.

Although in this case it found that the balance of public interest lay in withholding VINs it also commented that that “the public interest factors for releasing/withholding Vehicle Information Numbers are finely balanced mainly because of the extent to which they are already in the public domain.” It also said that it “would expect that the application of the public interest test to similar requests may be differently balanced in the future, particularly if VINs become more easily accessible and more widely available on the internet”

(*) The Tribunal decision includes a brief explanation of vehicle cloning & ringing.