When information cannot be released, provide requestors with a written explanation.
Currently, government institutions are required to inform requestors of the specific exemptions or exclusions applied under the Access to Information Act in responding to a request. They do not have to describe the exception applied when doing so could reveal the very information that must be protected.
At the moment, institutions are not required to provide an explanation as to why a certain section of the Act was applied.
Over 30,000 exemptions and exclusions were applied in the more than 67,000 requests processed by government institutions in 2014-. The most-often applied exemptions were:
- section 19(1) – personal information
- section 15(1) – international affairs and defence
- section 21(1) – advice and recommendations.
Although providing more explanation may take additional time and effort, requestors may gain a better understanding of the Act's careful balancing between access and the protection of privacy, confidentiality and security.
Internationally, the governments of the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand also specify the section of their legislation under which access was refused and provide detailed explanations as to why the section was applied.