From the Tyee
The British Columbia government’s push for greater power to collect and widely share citizens’ personal information should be refused given the province’s dismal recent record at protecting privacy, acting information and privacy commissioner Paul Fraser on Wednesday told a committee reviewing British Columbia’s freedom of information and protection of privacy act.
“The government had not yet established what we call a ‘culture of privacy,'” said Fraser, referring to his office’s conclusion from a recent investigation into a privacy breach. “That’s not just a buzz word. It’s a real expression of concern.”
The commissioner offered several recommendations for improving access to government records, but argued that it is unnecessary to change the act’s privacy provisions.
Last week senior government officials told the same committee that they needed sweeping new powers to collect people’s information, without their consent, and share it across the government as well as with non-governmental organizations and the police. They also wanted to be able to have that data stored outside of Canada.
They made the arguments as the government proceeds with a $180 million integrated case management system that will include computer files shared between the ministries of child and family development and housing and social development.
This week Fraser took a sceptical look at the government’s pitch, drawing on recent examples of government privacy problems. “Expediency has consistently trumped privacy,” he said. “Information is not being managed properly now, so how does that portend for the future?”
Read the full article by Andrew MacLeod
April 1, 2010 TheTyee.ca