Email addresses/IDs of Government and public sector organizations cannot be disclosed under RTI

Central Information Commission (CIC): While observing that the duty to secure information regarding emails and websites of ministries and departments of the Government is of utmost importance for security and privacy purposes, CIC held that email addresses/IDs of Government and public sector organizations cannot be disclosed under the Right to Information Act. However, National Informatics Centre was directed to quickly complete a web directory carrying email IDs of officials dealing public issues in larger public interest. All public authorities concerned were also directed to expeditiously provide the necessary data to NIC to complete the task. Earlier, an RTI applicant approached National Informatics Centre (NIC) seeking all email addresses details of Govt. /Public authorities/ organizations maintained by NIC with up to date amendments therein. National Informatics Centre denied the same quoting security reasons. Before CIC, appellant argued that the email addresses/ids of Government and public sector organizations are freely available on their individual websites and in fact it is Government policy to encourage use of email for correspondence to avoid unnecessary paper work. He further stated that he has mentioned in his submissions to the FAA, that in case the Respondent feels there are certain sensitive information, the same may be severed as per Section 10 of the RTI Act but the disclosable information cannot be denied to him. The CPIO stated that the information is exempt from disclosure and cannot be provided due to security reasons and can be misused. After perusal of material on record and hearing both the parties, Commission observed that, “Information as sought by the appellant is already available in the public domain at the click of button on separate websites of the respective Ministries and/or Departments. Citizens Charter/s already provided adequate information about the officials responsible for public dealing in various Government Departments/Ministries.” “Providing the list of all email ids in a CD format could pose a security threat as well as the risk of disruption of essential public services by making the information susceptible to misuse/abuse,” Commission added. [Maniram Sharma v. National Informatics Centre, 2015 SCC OnLine CIC 16647, decided on December 16, 2015]

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