Freedom of Information and Privacy 101
Why is government making changes to the Freedom of Information and Privacy rules?
The right to privacy is fundamental. Over 2,900 public bodies are covered under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA), and it’s important that you are able to trust that your personal information is protected.
The right to access the information you need to engage meaningfully with government on issues that matter to you is equally fundamental and is crucial to democracy. In addition to accessing the large volume of information made proactively available by government, the people of British Columbia are very active in exercising their Freedom of Information rights — in the 2016/17 fiscal year, almost 10,000 FOI requests were closed in ministries alone.
This is why government regularly seeks feedback on the rules and regulations that govern both FOI and Privacy.
What is a Special Committee and what is their role?
By law, the Legislative Assembly establishes a committee every six years whose job is to request submissions from members of the public and organizations and to make recommendations to government about how to improve FOIPPA. The last Special Committee reported to government on improvements in 2016. Almost 200 people and organizations made submissions or presentations to that committee.
Why are you consulting the public again so soon after the Special Committee review?
We wanted to hear from you on some of the topics that were raised at the last Special Committee review to ensure that the solutions we design take into account a range of perspectives, it is important that we strike the right balance.
Why are changes to FOIPPA needed?
FOIPPA has not been substantively amended in several years. B.C. has long been considered a leader in protection of privacy, transparency and openness and so it is important that our legislation, policy and practice keep pace to ensure B.C. remains a leader in these areas.
The Special Committee made 39 recommendations to government, so we know there is room for improvement. The Ministry of Citizens’ Services asked for your ideas so that government can undertake reforms that better meet the needs and interests of British Columbians.