Defending Information Rights
The BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (FIPA) is a non-partisan, non-profit society that was established in 1991 to promote and defend freedom of information and privacy rights in Canada. Our goal is to empower citizens by increasing their access to information and their control over their own personal information. We serve a wide variety of individuals and organizations through programs of public education, public assistance, research, and law reform. We are one of very few public interest groups in Canada devoted solely to the advancement of freedom of information (FOI) and privacy rights.
We were the major force in getting BC’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act passed, and we are its main defender. This act has been called the most progressive legislation of its kind in the world.
- We seek to empower citizens by increasing their right of access to government-held information
- We seek to empower citizens by promoting and defending the principle of universal and affordable access to the basic information channels of our time
- We seek to empower citizens by limiting the surveillance activities of the state, and by increasing our right of access to our own personal information and our ability to control the collection, use and sharing of our personal information, wherever it is stored
Public Assistance and Referrals
Every year, FIPA provides a wide variety of individuals and organizations with information and summary advice on freedom of information and privacy issues through our helplines and our online Help Topics. We occasionally arrange for advice or representation for people with serious access and privacy problems, through the support of our own volunteer counsel, and also through arrangements with a number of partner organizations.
Public Legal Education
FIPA produces a variety of public education events on freedom of information; privacy; and legislative and legal issues. Examples of our regular programming include our Privacy Skills Networking Breakfast; our annual Freedom of Information Workshop; and our bi-annual Information Summit. We also provide the public with access to guided self-help materials where gaps in legal education are identified.
Public Interest Advocacy and Research
We conduct ongoing research into the policy and legal climates that structure access and privacy regimes in B.C. and across Canada, commissioning our own studies, and providing research support to lawyers, journalists, students, and the general public. In the course of answering inquiries from the public and responding to stories in the media, we research emerging information rights issues by filing FOI requests.
Litigation and Law Reform
We constantly monitor the performance of government bodies and Canada’s Information and Privacy Commissioners, and are frequently consulted on policy issues by politicians and government officials. We regularly engage in legal advocacy before B.C.’s Information and Privacy Commissioner and various Canadian courts, and coordinate legal action with partner organizations to maximize effectiveness while avoiding duplication and overlap.