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Communications data

Request date: 3 November 2022

This version was printed or saved on: 14 July 2024

Online version: https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/about-us/freedomofinformation/communications-data

Request

Hi there,

Please can you tell me:

Please search your records from 1 January 2017 until 1 November 2022 (inclusive). Please split the data up by month and year.

Response

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your request which has been processed under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

In your email you have requested:

The Commission is a regulatory body with licensing, compliance, and enforcement functions; through our regulatory activity, the Commission aims to protect consumers and the wider public, and to raise standards in the gambling industry. We release details of our enforcement activity through our enforcement activity through public statements.

When we publish these statements, we take care to present as much information as possible to ensure that lessons can be learned by operators. However, we must also be careful not to reveal any information that could hinder our ability to conduct investigations or enable those we may investigate to avoid detection.

The Gambling Commission do not provide comment on any information held regarding specific investigatory steps unless it is in the public interest to do so. As such, we are unable to confirm or deny whether we hold any information within the scope of your request. Section 31(3) of the FOIA (Law Enforcement) exemption applies.

Section 31

Section 31(3) (“Law Enforcement”) provides that the duty to confirm or deny does not arise if, or to the extent that compliance with section 1(1)(a) would or would be likely to, prejudice any of the matters mentioned in subsection (1).

Having acknowledged that the Commission is not able to confirm or deny whether we hold any information within the scope of your request; section 31 of the FOIA requires that we consider a public interest test to identify whether there is a wider public interest in fulfilling this request as opposed to maintaining the exemption.

Arguments in favour of disclosure

We acknowledge that there is a legitimate public interest in promoting the accountability and transparency of the Commission.

Further to this, it is important that there is sufficient information in the public domain, so consumers have an understanding of the regulatory activity that the Commission is taking with specific operators to enable them to make informed decisions regarding their choice of operator.

Arguments in favour of maintaining the exemption

However, confirming or denying information which makes specific individuals or events identifiable could alert individuals involved to the fact that the Commission was and/or is or alternatively wasn’t and/or isn’t investigating a particular case and provide them with an opportunity to alter their behaviours or evade detection. This would result in making it more difficult for the Commission to achieve its aims.

Further to this, simply confirming or denying this request for information would impact on the openness of stakeholders when sharing important information with us or other law enforcement agencies. The amount of information released is carefully considered in order to protect the integrity of investigations.

Finally, once or if a formal regulatory decision has been made or there is agreement of a regulatory settlement, the Commission will ordinarily publish all such decisions in full. Fulfilling this request may prejudice the outcome of any future investigation by the Commission, or another body, to the detriment of the public interest.

Weighing the balance

Given the points considered, disclosure of the information would be damaging to the Commission as a regulatory body which serves to protect the wider public interest. Ultimately, the Commission believes that the interests of the public are better served through maintaining the exemption, therefore we are not in a position to confirm or deny whether we hold any information in relation to your request.

Review of the decision

If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your Freedom of Information request you are entitled to an internal review of our decision. You should write to FOI Team, Gambling Commission, 4th floor, Victoria Square House, Victoria Square, Birmingham, B2 4BP or by reply to this email.

Please note, internal review requests should be made within 40 working days of the initial response. Requests made outside this timeframe will not be processed.

If you are not content with the outcome of our review, you may then apply directly to the Information Commissioner (ICO) for a decision. Generally, the ICO cannot make a decision unless you have already exhausted the review procedure provided by the Gambling Commission.

The ICO can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office (opens in a new tab), Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.

Information Management Team
Gambling Commission
Victoria Square House
Victoria Square
Birmingham B2 4BP

Request for internal review

Hi there,

I would like to request an internal review of this response.

I believe it is in the public interest to know how often the Gambling Commission obtained data from telecommunications operators in accordance with the provisions set out in the Investigatory Powers Act (2016).

There is a legitimate public interest in knowing when public authorities use these provisions, ensuring the accountability of government authorities who have access to individual telecommunications data, given it is private data and the Gambling Commission is not a law enforcement agency.

You argue that revealing this data could alert individuals to their being under investigation. However, I am asking for aggregated and non-personal data that would not identify individuals in any capacity.

Furthermore, several other government agencies have already come back to me and provided this data, therefore I am confident that if I referred this to the ICO the ruling would fall in my favour.

Internal review response

Dear Sir,

Further to your Freedom of Information request dated 3 November 2022 which we responded to on 24 November 2022, and your subsequent request for an internal review received on 25 November 2022, we have now concluded our review and our findings are detailed as follows. This internal review was conducted by someone who was not involved in the processing of your original request.

Your original request was:

In our original response, we refused to confirm or deny whether any information was held within the scope of your request and it was our view that the Section 31(3) Law Enforcement exemption was engaged. This was on the basis that the Gambling Commission do not provide comment on specific investigatory steps unless it is in the public interest to do so.

However, the review has concluded that we are able to release the following information to you in relation to your request. Please note however that the Commission does not pay telecommunications companies for access to personal data on customers, nor does it participate in the Home Office cost recovery scheme for access to such data. The table shows the months and years in which the Commission has accessed telecommunications data as part of an investigation, in accordance with section 28, the power to investigate and prosecute offences under the Gambling Act 2005.

Access to telecommunications data as part of an investigation

Months and years in which the Commission has accessed telecommunications data as part of an investigation.
Month and year Number of enquiries
February 2020 2
January 2020 2
May 2019 1
April 2018 30
November 2017 1
July 2017 1

In your review request you have stated ‘the Gambling Commission is not a law enforcement agency’. However, I can confirm that the Gambling Commission is an executive non-departmental public body and the regulator of commercial gambling in Great Britain as well as the National Lottery. Part of our role is to enforce the provisions set out in the Gambling Act 2005, which includes, in accordance with section 28, the power to investigate and prosecute offences under the Gambling Act 2005.

If you are not content with the outcome of your review, you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner (ICO) for a decision. Generally, the ICO cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the complaints procedure provided by the Gambling Commission. The ICO can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.