Section 8 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 limits the scope of the Act to requests for information that (inter alia) "[state] the name of the applicant". The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 has an equivalent provision in its section 8. In consequence, requests which do not state the name of the applicant are not covered by the Act, and public authorities need not reply to them.
There are no similar requirements under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 or the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004, so requests for environmental information can be made under any (or no) name.
The following information provided by the ICO may be useful:
|9 Are requests submitted under obvious pseudonyms automatically vexatious?
The FOIA requires requesters to make requests for information in writing and to state their name and an address for correspondence. Technically, a request submitted using a pseudonym is not a proper request and could be refused on that ground. However, the FOIA does not allow public authorities to enquire into the circumstances of the requester or to ask for information to verify identities. Unless the public authority knows that the requester has used a pseudonym, it will be difficult to refuse a request on that ground.
A better starting point is the assumption built into the FOIA that public authorities must generally ignore the identity and circumstances of the requester and must consider any release of information as if it were a release to the world at large. This approach recognises that although requesters cannot gain any advantage by using a pseudonym, they may have reasons for not wishing to draw attention to themselves by using the names under which they are normally known.
Although a public authority may not consider a request as vexatious simply because the requester uses an obvious pseudonym, it may be prompted by the use of the pseudonym to consider whether the request is vexatious. For example, it may be appropriate for a public authority to take account of whether it has good reason to suspect that a requester is using a pseudonym deliberately to avoid the link between the current request and previous behaviour or requests made to other authorities as one factor to determine whether the request is vexatious.
However, a public authority should not base any decisions as to disclosure on the name supplied by the requester (unless the requester is making a subject access request - a request for information about their own personal information under section 7 of the Data Protection Act 1998).
|Information Commissioner's Office guidance.|