TNT Post

Tantalising scraps of information have emerged recently from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in response to The Hub’s enquiries about the case of a bag of post found dumped in a river in North London early last year.

As readers will recall, the case involved the discovery last April of a full bag of post that had been abandoned by a TNT Post (now renamed Whistl) postie instead of being delivered, a matter the ICO subsequently decided to look into for a possible alleged breach by the company of the Data Protection Act.

In November – several months after the original incident – the ICO finally confirmed it had dropped its enquiry but gave no explanation, leading us to put in a request for more clarity under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.

Responding to our request substantially outside the 20-working-day period required by the FOI Act, the ICO eventually admitted just before Christmas that its enquiry into the matter had been conducted without contacting Whistl at all, just as a spokesman for the company had previously indicated. The ICO told us this was because “they are not considered to be either a data controller or a data processor for the purposes of the Data Protection Act 1998”.

It did, however, contact “the data controller concerned” but decided not to take further action “as the circumstances did not meet the criteria set out in our Data Protection Regulatory Action Policy”.

Dissatisfied with the paucity of information received, we have now gone back to the ICO to ask who this data controller was and which criteria exactly from the ICO’s Data Protection Regulatory Action Policy were not met.

We've also asked it why TNT Post/Whistl was ultimately deemed not to be a data controller or processor and what the ICO spent the rest of its time doing in the months between opening and closing its enquiry.

If its second response is as late and as devoid of information as its first, The Hub may feel obliged to take the matter further with the statutory complaint handler under FOI legislation… who turns out, rather embarrassingly, to be none other than the Information Commissioner’s Office itself.

We’ll keep you posted.