The identities of Malta’s freedom of information officers will remain shrouded in secrecy after the Data Protection Commissioner refused a request to divulge the details.
In May, Chris Peregin, who was then Lovin Malta’s CEO, filed an FOI request to divulge the identities of the individuals, who are vital cogs in disseminating crucial information to both journalists and private citizens.
The request, which was decided by the same FOI officers, was rejected.
Malta’s FOI system has been subject to significant criticism, due to the high number of refusals or delays in providing the information.
It routinely rejects the publication of information despite it seemingly being in the public interest, like details on an illegal St Vincent De Paul contract and the contracts handed out to Malta’s quarantine hotels.
The public inquiry linked to the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia even recommended a revision of the FOI act, amid concerns that it is failing to serve its proper function.
FOI falls under the responsibility of the Office of the Prime Minister, raising questions over the entire system in general.
The rejected request was taken up to the Data Protection Commissioner. However, the request was refused yet again, with the Commissioner citing data protection. He maintained that FOI officers are not involved in the decision-making process of FOI.
It appears that FOI officers are even exempt from the regulation.
It remains to be seen whether the information will ever be known.
What do you think of the decision?