BC FIPA Makes Submission on Employee Privacy to the Information and Privacy Commissioner

BC FIPA has made its submission regarding the Draft Employment Privacy Guidelines to the Information and Privacy Commissioner of BC today.

FIPA is in support of a large part of the Draft Guidelines – on the whole, they are clear,
reasonable, and support a meaningful interpretation of the legislation.

However, there are also several areas of concern, and these are brought to the attention of the OIPC in this submission with the hope that this will assist in the improvement of the Draft Guidelines throughout this consultation process. FIPA asserts that employees in British Columbia deserve the highest possible protection of their privacy rights.

To this end, FIPA recommends that the OIPC take the following actions in relation to the
Draft Guidelines:

1. Recognize the status of privacy rights as fundamental, constitutionally protected rights.

2. Recognize that neither individual nor collective employment contracts can detract from an employee’s privacy rights.

3. Support the view that privacy rights generate benefits for both employers and employees.

4. Adopt a rigorous and contextual interpretation of what is “reasonable.”

5. Require a meaningful kind of “demonstration” of any justification for infringing on privacy rights, such as a written explanation, showing a logical justification for the action, and some evidence to support that justification.

6. Amend the Draft Guidelines to provide that employers must specify the aspect of an employment relationship that is being “managed,” and how, in order to justify the reasonableness of any invasion of employee privacy.

7. Adopt the Draft Guidelines relating to covert surveillance in full, reinforcing the limitation of covert surveillance to investigations of a reasonably founded specific allegation.

8. Adopt further measures to ensure the protection of any health or medical information about employees, including introducing an important role for health professionals whenever such information is collected, used or disclosed.

9. Adopt the Draft Guidelines on the notification requirement in full, and include concrete examples of what might qualify as notification. In different circumstances, the notifying document might be posted on a bulletin board, sent directly to all employees, or described during a meeting.

10. Amend the Draft Guidelines to explicitly state that any collection, use or disclosure of employee personal information without consent must meet both the reasonableness and notification requirements. Employers cannot fulfill their obligations under the Act by notifying employees of a surveillance practice, where it is unreasonable.

11. Add a provision to the Draft Guidelines affirming that information used for the
purpose of managing an employment relationship is always subject to the reasonableness and notification requirements, regardless of whether that information is also related to an insurance or benefit plan.

12. Require employers to publish and distribute information about employee privacy rights and the role of the OIPC in all workplaces.

Download the full submission (pdf).

BC FIPA Submission on Outsourcing Information Services to U.S. Providers and the USA PATRIOT ACT

BC FIPA presented its submission to the Information and Privacy Commissioner for BC on the implications
for personal information of British Columbia residents involved in outsourcing of government services to U.S.-linked service providers in relation to the USA PATRIOT ACT.

In view of section 215 [of the USA PATRIOT ACT], it appears that outsourcing to U.S. linked service providers presents the risk of compelled disclosure of personal information, even when that information is stored in British Columbia, through an order of the secret FISA court.

Information relating to British Columbians could be the subject of an order even when no individual whose information is the subject of an order is suspected of a crime, provided that the information is certified by the FBI as sought for an authorised investigation seeking foreign intelligence information. This is an amorphous standard that has the potential to catch a wide range of information pertaining to any number of individuals.

[T]he Provincial Government should not be permitted to contract out a public service where to do so has any potential, even if unlikely, to place the service provider in a situation where it is confronted with a foreign legal obligation to disclose personal information contrary to the [Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act].

Read the submission and recommendations (pdf).

Toolkit for Access to Personal Records

We have put together model letters to help citizens access and correct the personal information held by the Federal and BC governments.


Personal Information:

Request for Personal Information from BC Gov’t

Request for Personal Information from Federal Gov’t



Request for Correction of Personal Information Held by BC Gov’t

Request for Correction of Personal Info Held by Federal Gov’t


Reviewing (Appealing) if not satisfied with the response to your request:

Request for Review (Appeal) of a Request for Personal Information from the BC Gov’t

Request for Review (Appeal) of a Request for Personal Info from the Federal Gov’t

Speech to the BC Library Association on Bill 38 – Personal Information Protection Act – May 30, 2003

Darrel Evans, executive director of BC FIPA, was in Victoria today to deliver a speech at the BC Library Association Annual Conference on Bill 38, BC’s Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA).

After extensive consultation and input from organizations like BC FIPA, Bill 38 has turned into a real privacy bill what BC FIPA describes as an “enormous leap for privacy rights.”

However, there are still concerns, especially with regards to the drastic cuts made to the budget of the Information and Privacy Commissioner who will oversee PIPA.

There are also areas that could be improved such as issues like grandfathering, exceptions to consent, reduced rights of employees, limits to access and correction provisions, and the broad exception for the loosely defined “investigative purposes”.

On the whole, BC FIPA believes the legislation to be a very good one. Hopefully, the government will use this constructive criticism to make the bill even better.

Read the full text of the speech (pdf)