A few weeks ago I posted on the ongoing dispute over Ofcom’s sitefinder database. The website shows the location and characteristics of mobile phone base stations that use the GSM, TETRA and UMTS(3G) technologies. On 4 September 2007, following a Freedom of Information request, the Information Tribunal upheld a decison by the Information Commissioner that Ofcom must supply the full Sitefinder dataset to parties who request it, including the names of operators, locations and power levels of all mobile base stations.
The Mobile operators - in particular, T-Mobile - and Ofcom were none too pleased about this, arguing that it breached their database rights, IP rights, and would leave the mobile operators’ base stations open to vandalism and possible terrorist attack. So they took their case to the High Court.
Sadly for Ofcom, the Court could find no fault with the ruling of the Information Tribunal. The Court held that the Tribunal had not erred in law in finding that the public interest in maintaining the exception (12(5)(c) of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, which states that a public authority may refuse to disclose information to the extent that its disclosure would adversely affect intellectual property rights) had not outweighed the public interest in disclosing the information.
3, O2, Orange, Vodafone, Airwave and Network Rail recently resumed the voluntary supply of data for the database to Ofcom at approximately three month intervals. T-Mobile has continually refused to do so since 2005. Ofcom did not say whether or not it intends to appeal the ruling further.
I don’t see Ofcom taking this further as the Court were clear that in “all the circumstances, the tribunal had not erred in law”.