The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner has ordered the release of records requested by BC FIPA related to the mysterious Ministry of Health data breach case.
FIPA had requested:
- Data sharing and other agreements involving the Ministry and four named individuals;
- Correspondence between the Ministry and the four named individuals relating to the agreements, particularly correspondence about delays or impediments to accessing data for research purposes;
- E-mails, memos or other notices to staff from the Ministry’s Assistant Deputy Minister of Information Management/Information Technology Division regarding delays or impediments to the release of data to researchers; and
- Any policy changes relating to release of data to researchers.
The OIPC yesterday ordered the release of most of what FIPA had requested, after the government had resisted release for more than two years.
FIPA made the request before the firings (and later rehirings) of a number of Ministry employees and contractors working in the Ministry’s Pharmaceutical Services Division. The Ministry initially refused to release any documents, but eventually dropped a number of claims it was using to justify refusing to release the records.
The government’s main claim was that releasing these records would damage ongoing investigations into the situation. The Adjudicator was not convinced, stating:
“In my view, the Ministry’s submissions are based on speculation, and there is no objective evidentiary basis for concluding that the harms the Ministry fears will result from disclosure to the applicant.”
The Ministry was also unsuccessful in claiming other records were policy advice or personal information. They were able to keep various computer related records secret, such as passwords.
The government has until December 11 to hand over the documents to FIPA or to file for a judicial review of the decision in BC Supreme Court.