BC FIPA’s comments on Bill 38, the Personal Information Protection Act, submitted to the Minister of Management Services – 15 May 2003

Bill 38 is a very good piece of privacy legislation and a breakthrough for privacy rights at the provincial level. BC has shown strong leadership among the provinces in moving forward with a private-sector privacy bill that has real teeth. For this, great credit is due to yourself and also to Chris Norman and Sharon Plater, the officials at the Corporate Privacy and Information Access Branch who have conducted the public consultation process and the development of the legislation.

However, Bill 38 is not flawless. In our news release of May 2, 2003, BC FIPA’s president stated, “We are pleased at how far the bill progressed [during the consultation process]. We’re not saying that the act is perfect, but we give it a high “B” grade.”

FIPA has stated clearly to the government, the media and the public that we support Bill 38 because its merits greatly outweigh its flaws. In endorsing the Bill, we recognize how far the government moved to improve and strengthen it during the consultation process. Nevertheless, we must state that we are in substantial agreement with most of the points the Privacy Commissioner has raised. We urge the government to consider the substance of the Privacy Commissioner’s comments seriously, and if at all possible, make improvements to the Bill in the areas in which he has expressed concern.

Read BC FIPA’s complete comments to the Minister (doc).

BC FIPA Comments on Proposal for Nat’l ID Card

BC FIPA presented its comments before the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Public Safety on the proposal to create a national identity card.

[A] national ID card would be:

  • hugely expensive;
  • just as subject to fraud, privacy abuses, and security breaches as current systems of identification; and
  • not likely to be more effective in preventing crime than better managed and more secure systems for birth certificates, Social Insurance Numbers, passports, and driver’s licenses.

Canadians have not had an open and thorough debate about the possibility of creating a national identity card, and we believe it would be a serious mistake to proceed in the heat of the moment without such a debate — or more accurately, in the current atmosphere of fear, anger and hysteria which has so unbalanced our neighbour to the south.

Read the full text of the comments (pdf).


Darrell Evans of BC FIPA gave a speech on Lawful Access to the Frontiers of Privacy and Security conference in Victoria today. Darrell highlighted some of the concerns that BC FIPA has with the direction that the Federal government is taking in the context of Lawful Access.

FIPA’s view in a nutshell is that we have no objection if the State has the same ability to intercept and monitor email and wireless communication that it currently has to intercept and monitor letter mail and conventional telephone communication. But the Consultation Document goes far beyond this to propose much greater license to intercept and monitor, and with a lower standard of judicial supervision.

We are opposed to the proposals because, in our opinion, they unjustifiably intrude upon the privacy rights of Canadian citizens.

Read the whole speech.

Key Recommendations for Reform of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act

BC FIPA has published a list of key recommendations for reform to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (the Act).

FIPA calls for a number of improvements:

  • reinforcing the ‘public interest’ provision under s. 25;
  • limiting what the government can do without consent;
  • increasing the responsibility of public bodies to respond fully to requests and in a timely fashion;
  • introducing whistleblower protections;
  • improving the rules regarding retention and destruction of documents;
  • narrowing the exceptions under s. 14 and 15;
  • extending the scope of coverage of the Act to the Legislative Assembly;
  • reviewing all the statutory exceptions from the Act; and,
  • revisiting the budget of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

Read the full recommendations (pdf).