Politics

Home Office Rejects Freedom Of Information Request For Theresa May's Browsing History

The "vexatious" request was turned down because it was judged to be "fishing for information".

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A freedom of information request for the home secretary's internet browsing history has been rejected on the grounds that it was "fishing for information".

In November, Theresa May unveiled the investigatory powers bill – dubbed the "snooper's charter" by critics – which will grant British spy agencies the power to find out which websites any UK web user has visited without a warrant.

In response to the bill, Chris Gilmour submitted an FOI request for May's internet history but, in a letter from the Home Office this week, was told the "vexatious" request has been rejected because it would put an "unreasonable burden" on the department.

"We have considered your requests and we believe them to be vexatious. Section 14(1) of the [freedom of information] act provides that the Home Office is not obliged to comply with a request for information of this nature," wrote May's ministerial support unit.

"We have decided that your request is vexatious because it places an unreasonable burden on the department, because it has adopted a scattergun approach and seems solely designed for the purpose of 'fishing' for information without any idea of what might be revealed."

Gilmour tweeted his FOI response on Wednesday.

The Home Office considers freedom of information requests for Internet browsing histories to be vexatious. https://t.co/5Y41a1b5eA

Under freedom of information law, requests can be turned down if they are deemed to be "patently unreasonable or objectionable" or "likely to cause a disproportionate or unjustified level of disruption, irritation or distress".

The full letter to Gilmour from the home office can be read on the What Do They Know website.

Jamie Ross is a Scotland reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Edinburgh.

Contact Jamie Ross at jamie.ross@buzzfeed.com.

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