Discussion #1: Welcome

Thank you for visiting B.C.’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA) review website.
There are many different perspectives on Freedom of Information (FOI) and Privacy. We want to hear from people and organizations across our Province who have an interest in access to information and privacy and have thoughts to share on how to make change.

This is the first time that government has directly engaged British Columbians in a discussion about potential improvements to the rules that govern both FOI and the protection of your personal information.
We hope you’ll take the time to explore the site and share your thoughts. You’ll be able to read submissions from others about changes they would like to see, as well as blog posts that will focus on what we know are some of the key issues. You can participate by commenting on the blog, or by writing down your own ideas and submitting them.
Maybe your idea is about the information we make available online, or maybe it’s about the FOI process. Maybe your idea is about FOIPPA and a way to improve the rules that are set out in it. This is your chance to join the discussion.

The website will be live until April 9, 2018. Then we’ll use all the ideas we gathered to inform a report on recommended improvements.
Government is the steward of important information that belongs to British Columbians. That information can be used to support public transparency and accountability, provide effective service delivery, and preserve the historical record of the Province.
It’s important to recognize that some of that information is your personal information. And we need to make sure we protect it.

Thanks for participating. We look forward to hearing from you about how we can make real improvements that will strike the right balance between making information available so that you can engage with government on topics that interest you, and ensuring that we protect your personal information.

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8 responses to “Discussion #1: Welcome

    User avatar
    [-] Bob

    My initial comment is this. Why further delay needed reforms, when, as opposition, the NDP tabled a suite of democratic reform private members’ bills? All were rejected by the BC Liberal government. Why waste any more time? Dust-off those private members’ bills, table them as government bills and fulfil your promise to make B.C. better. To refresh your memory, Minister Sims, here is the link to those private members’ bills -> http://bcndpcaucus.ca/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2017/02/Backgrounder-Democratic-reform-suite.pdf

    User avatar
    [-] Bob

    On April 27, 2017, the B.C. NDP responded to the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association’s election questionnaire. (The link to the NDP response is at bottom.) Below are key questions posed by FIPA and the corresponding NDP responses (edited for brevity).
    Why delay long overdue FOI reforms, when you have already made promises?

    Q: Do you accept the April 2017 report of the Ombudsperson into the firings at the Ministry of Health, and will you bring in whistleblower protection legislation by March 2018 as recommended?
    A: Yes.

    Q: Will your government support the creation of penalties against those who interfere with information rights?
    A: Yes.

    Q: Will your government act on the Commissioner’s recommendations to put a “duty to document” in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act?
    A: Yes.

    Q: In 2017, the Special Legislative Committee reviewing FIPPA repeated the recommendation from the 2010 Committee that subsidiaries created by educational public bodies like colleges and universities should be made subject to the Act. Will your government make this change and if not, why?
    A: We support the Act being expanded to capture subsidiaries created by public bodies and will consult with affected organizations.

    Q: The BC government now posts the texts of Freedom of Information requests it receives even before releasing any information the requester. This practice has been criticized by FIPA and many others as measure that can intimidate requesters while providing no additional transparency on government operations.
    A. Do you agree with this policy, and if so, why?
    B. If not, will your government end this practice?


    User avatar
    [-] A.

    Municipalities as well hold back studies and information that belongs to the public. If not released quickly to public, ever more advantage naturally accrues to insiders who can potentially profit from advance knowledge. Default should be, if a public institution, its public info, with as few, only truly necessary exceptions as possible.

    I think the news media will still find plenty of shocking information in just helping the public understand the ramifications of releases. And please keep growing real investigative reporting wherever it takes you.

    User avatar
    [-] Dylan

    Thanks for creating this opportunity to for the public to comment on this critical issue.

    I think this consultation provides a tremendous opportunity to finally rid the Act of the ineffectual and counterproductive data residency requirement (FIPPA section 30.1). On its surface, the requirement might seem to protect Canadian residents against the boogeymen of Homeland Security and the Patriot Act; however, most information security experts will tell that’s just not how the internet works and locating servers in Canada provides almost no protection (in and of itself) against foreign governments accessing our residents’ data.

    The data residency requirement is not benign either – it creates a situation in which large multinational IM/IT companies that can source access to Canadian server farms (primarily located outside of British Columbia) are able to compete on government contracts, while smaller British Columbian companies are locked out because of their dependence on U.S. cloud-based services (primarily the ubiquitous Amazon Web Services cloud). British Columbian taxpayers also pay an extra premium on all government IM/IT contracts because of data residency requirements, without meaningful extra protections as a result.

    Higher costs for taxpayers, local companies locked out of government procurement, and no meaningful privacy protections for our residents – the data residency requirement should be considered for repeal.

    User avatar
    [-] Adrian

    I support retaining the data residency requirements. The US PATRIOT Act (and successors) give so many rights to government, including access to all data held by US-based corporations, that I would not trust our government to hold the data securely if a strong residency requirement is not retained.

    User avatar
    [-] John

    We used to be world leaders in FOI legislation and practices; now we are an embarrassing backwater of delays and inflated costs.

    User avatar
    [-] Chris

    As an experienced archivist I find the access rules and fees with regards to research on individual surveys and land titles to be problematic. In researching an 1880’s land survey of an individual land title within a block where the original posts have long since disappeared, the modern title holder is expected to hire a professional researcher, a lawyer or surveyor for a fee to research the early surveys and land titles. Pre 1921 the Lands Office has Absolute Fee Books (AFB) which record individual titles which are presently not indexed and not accessible except perhaps by a researcher at great expense to the individual property owner. (Land Titles staff do not even acknowledge that these books exist.) Furthermore, where highways were involved in expropriating land all pre 1960’s records have been removed from records and it difficult to access records through FOIPIP unless you can find the record series numbers at the B.C. Archives. As an archivist and researcher I was able to access the historical surveys under a special arrangement and get copies for a fee. But I was not able to access the AFB for our lot. A modern survey had changed boundary of our lot resulting a loss or 1/3 of the property and situation where a neighbour asked us to move our house. We tried to find the evidence that the survey was mistaken but without on the ground evidence we could not convince the LTSA about the location of the original boundary. The only way to do that would have been to access the AFB which are only now going to begin to be digitized in 2018. It took more than 2 years to access the Highway records. These also did not provide the evidence we needed. In the end we were forced to negotiate an easement with the neighbour costing us about $5,000 and decided to sell the house. As an archivist I think access to the early public records in Highways and the LTSA should be free and that they should have to have a knowledgeable archivists to service these records.

    User avatar
    [-] Ryan

    I have had a very hard time obtaining any information from public bodies in BC using these laws, which seem almost designed to assist in avoiding being legally forced to disclose documents through broad interpretation of the acts, while appearing on first glance to be the opposite. I volunteer my case for the government to use to audit the entire system of seeking disclosure and information from a public body, as it demonstrates the many pitfalls of the system and legislation as they are.