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Posts tagged ‘FOIPPA’

Privacy Commissioner seeking input on BC Association of Chiefs of Police

magnifying-glassIn the latest issue of Focus Magazine, Rob Wipond has an excellent article about the British Columbia Association of Chiefs of Police (and its sister organization, the BC Association of Municipal Chiefs of Police). He’s been covering this issue diligently for a couple of years. Now the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner is taking a serious look at whether the BCACP and the BCAMCP should be listed as public bodies for the purposes of responding to Freedom of Information requests.

Here is an excerpt from Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham’s letter:

In my reflections on this issue to date, it appears that the policy argument in favour of such a recommendation is based on two related considerations.

The first consideration is the important public role that the Chief Constables and the Associations play in our society. A Chief Constable occupies a central and very important public role. That role also appears to be quite unique because each Chief Constable operates within a statutory employment relationship in which he or she nonetheless enjoys and asserts greater operational independence than one might find in an ordinary employment scenario.

Where, as here, Chief Constables operating pursuant to a unique employment relationship have considered it necessary and desirable to associate, assemble and speak collectively through the Associations they have created, and where government and others treat the Associations as the focal point for contact with the Chief Constables on matters of public policy, it may be suggested, that the Associations should be treated under FIPPA as public bodies in their own right.

The second consideration is more practical. It suggests that from a records coverage perspective, the appropriate level of transparency of Association records can be achieved for FIPPA purposes only if a member of the public can request current and historical records from the Association itself, rather than relying on what might be piecemeal and incomplete records held by individual Chief Constables at any given time (assuming that the “custody or control” test is met in those situations).

Having raised these points for your consideration, I wish to make clear that I have not formed any final views, and am suspending judgment, on what if any public policy recommendations I should make until after the period for comment is closed.

Any person with an interest in commenting on this issue will have until the end of business on February 14, 2014 to do so. Please note that all stakeholder comments submitted in response to this request will be made publicly available.

Is transparency in policing important to you? If so, please contact the Privacy Commissioner and let her know your views as to whether these organizations should be “public bodies” for the purposes of applying the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). No matter what your view, your input is needed and welcome. This opportunity does not come up often. In fact, these organizations have been around for more than thirty years, and this is the first time there has been a serious conversation about adding them as public bodies to FIPPA.

You can your comments via email or by regular mail to:

Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner

Mail PO Box 9038, Stn Prov. Govt, Victoria BC V8W 9A4

Whistleblower protection and FOIPPA

In British Columbia, some government institutions have a tendency not to fully comply with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. As a result, I’ve begun to include the following in all of my FOI requests. Perhaps, in some small way, it will help employees become more aware of their rights (and responsibilities):

In responding to this request, please note Section 30.3 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act:

Whistle-blower protection

30.3  An employer, whether or not a public body, must not dismiss, suspend, demote, discipline, harass or otherwise disadvantage an employee of the employer, or deny that employee a benefit, because

(a) the employee, acting in good faith and on the basis of reasonable belief, has notified the minister responsible for this Act under section 30.2,

(b) the employee, acting in good faith and on the basis of reasonable belief, has disclosed to the commissioner that the employer or any other person has contravened or is about to contravene this Act,

(c) the employee, acting in good faith and on the basis of reasonable belief, has done or stated an intention of doing anything that is required to be done in order to avoid having any person contravene this Act,

(d) the employee, acting in good faith and on the basis of reasonable belief, has refused to do or stated an intention of refusing to do anything that is in contravention of this Act, or

(e) the employer believes that an employee will do anything described in paragraph (a), (b), (c) or (d).

Clarification of Monday Magazine column

I would like to clarify a few points in Simon Nattrass’ column for Monday Magazine.

First, I acted independently in filing the Freedom of Information request with Esquimalt. I filed the request because I believe in transparency and accountability. To imply that the request was submitted to benefit my employer is simply wrong. Secrecy hinders good governance and this is why all citizens have the right to request information using FOI legislation.

Second, I don’t support the retention of non-hit data from Automatic License Plate Recognition surveillance cameras in British Columbia. My personal view is that storing random data is not a useful investigative technique for law enforcement. It is also a civil liberties issue and so I look forward to seeing the results of the ALPR investigation by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

I do enjoy reading Monday Magazine and so I was surprised by this column. Many people in Victoria know that I am a passionate advocate for criminal justice reform while off-duty. I wish Simon had contacted me before writing this piece, but he didn’t.

Request for Review filed against Esquimalt

I’ve filed a “Request for Review” against Esquimalt with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

This is in regard to an access request I submitted to the Township of Esquimalt on July 6th. I asked for a copy of the RCMP proposal received by Esquimalt in response to its RFP for policing services.

Esquimalt denied the request.

In a nutshell, their position is that they “cannot release the requested report in its entirety, or reasonably sever exempted information to disclose any part of it” as the proposal is exempt from disclosure under sections 12, 13, 15, 16, 17 and 21 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

These sections of FIPPA deal with serious matters including Cabinet confidence, government relations, the investigative techniques used by law enforcement, the financial and economic interests of various public bodies, the ability of the government to manage the economy, trade secrets and other issues.

My position is that Esquimalt does not genuinely believe the proposal is exempt, nor do they believe that harm will result if the proposal becomes public. If this were the case, Esquimalt Council never would have passed an in-camera resolution asking the RCMP to release its proposal.

Another concern is that the Township has informed me that it will not release any information without an actual Order from the Commissioner. Often these “Request for Review” disputes get resolved through mediation with the OIPC. However, after a statement like that, it is difficult to believe that Esquimalt will participate in mediation in good faith.

$200 to view the EPLEAB minutes and agendas

The Township of Esquimalt is charging $200 in access fees to look at the minutes and agendas of the (now defunct) Esquimalt Police and Law Enforcement Advisory Board. I’ll post them here when I get them. In the meantime, here is the list of municipal police boards in British Columbia who post their minutes online, for free: