FOI request detail

Shutting down the London Underground's WiFi service on 17 April 2019

Request ID: FOI-1169-1920
Date published: 05 August 2019

You asked

I am requesting any information you hold relating to the decision making, planning and/or implementation of the shutting down of the London Underground's WiFi service on Wednesday 17 April 2019 during an "Extinction Rebellion" protest. I am requesting information relating to the above between the 7th and 23rd of April. I believe that this request is in line with the needs of public interest as this may set a precedent for how future protests are handled and it is important for the public to understand how, why and when this decision was made. I am happy to clarify this request if it is unclear, any information that results from this request I would prefer to receive in digital form where possible.

We answered

Our ref: FOI-1169-1920/GH

Thank you for your request received by Transport for London (TfL) on 19 July 2019 asking for information about the shutting down of London Underground's WiFi service.

Your request has been considered under the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and our information access policy. I can confirm that we do hold the information you require. However, in accordance with the FOI Act, we are not obliged to supply the information you have requested as it is subject to statutory exemptions to the right of access to information, under Section 38(1)(b) and section 24 of the Act. These exemptions have been applied to the information requested as disclosure of the thought processes, decision making and subsequent implementation could adversely affect the safety and security of TfL employees and members of the general public, as well as present a risk to our national security.

Whilst we make no suggestion that you would use this information for anything other than you own personal interest, disclosure of this information to you has to be regarded as a disclosure to ‘the public at large’. This information could potentially be obtained and utilised by individuals who may wish to use this information to cause disruption or harm to the London Underground network.

Disclosure of information could compromise security and safety preparedness on London Underground’s network and would place members of the public and TfL staff at risk by highlighting the very procedures and processes, which are in place to protect people.

The use of this exemption is subject to an assessment of the public interest in relation to the disclosure of the information concerned. We recognise the need for openness and transparency by public authorities, but in this instance the public interest in applying the exemption, in order to minimise risks to operational resilience, safe operation of the London Underground network, the welfare of staff and members of the general public, outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

At the time of the incident we referred any people who requested further information to the British Transport Police (BTP) press office, as it was their decision.

Their press line is as below:

A British Transport Police (BTP) spokeswoman said: "In the interests of safety and to prevent and deter serious disruption to the London Underground network, British Transport Police has taken the decision to restrict passenger wi-fi connectivity at Tube stations.

"We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and we would like to assure passengers that this decision is not taken lightly and will be reviewed throughout the day."

If you are not satisfied with this response please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal.

Yours sincerely

Graham Hurt

FOI Case Officer

FOI Case Management Team

General Counsel

Transport for London

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