FIPA joins campaign against international biometric identification

FIPA has joined with more than 30 other civil liberties groups in sending an open letter to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) asking it to cease development of a biometric national database standard for biometric passports.

Privacy International, which organized the letter, is worried that international agreement on such a standard will pressure governments to jump aboard the worldwide surveillance bandwagon and lead to an increase in the sharing of personal information across borders, including such data as face-scans and fingerprints. It could also pressure countries to adopt national ID systems that are very unpopular with citizens in most democracies.

Privacy International is continuing to accept endorsements for what is hoped will be a powerful international movement.

For background information on the initiative and the problems with biometric passports, see:

News coverage
Campaigners fight biometric passports
Civil liberties groups unite for RFID protest

Information Commissioner proposes major reforms to BC’s FOI and privacy act

BC’s Information and Privacy Commissioner has presented a sweeping vision for reform of the provinces’ Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to a special committee of the Legislature which is conducting a review of the act.

The submission proposes that public bodies be required to implement schemes for routine disclosure of a lot more of their vast stores of public information. It also proposes that government programs be measured against a “Privacy Charter of Rights” to determine if they go too far in invading the privacy of citizens.

See the Commissioner’s submission

Action Alert: BC Legislature committee begins second review of FOI and privacy act

A special committee of the B.C. Legislature is conducting the second formal review of the province’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIPP) Act. The submissions made to this committee, and its report to the Legislature, will be a major influence on the Liberal government’s future approach to FOI and privacy.

Once again, the question is: will the government strengthen FOI and privacy rights or weaken them? Pressure to weaken critical parts of the Act has already begun (See below). FIPA is urging supporters of FOI and privacy to take this opportunity to make their voices heard.

The committee has conducted several public hearings and is accepting written submissions. THE DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS IS FEBRUARY 27, 2004.

To obtain more information, call the Clerk of Committees at 1-877-428-8337.

Website of the Special Committee to Review the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act

Records of meetings of the Committee (previous legislative session)
FOIPPA review hot topics

Vancouver Sun editorial
March 4, 2004

A dozen B.C. police agencies — including the Vancouver Police Department — are lobbying to be exempted from freedom-of-information laws.
By Russ Francis
Monday Magazine


FIPA reports and submissions:

A Prescription for “Dr. Doe” — Proposed Revisions to s. 13 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act in Response to the Decision in College of Physicians of British Columbia v. British Columbia (Information and Privacy Commissioner)
January 19, 2004

Key Recommendations for Reform of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, January 15, 2003

Reform of BC’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act – Submission to the Hon. Sandy Santori, Minister of Management services, July 2, 2002

Other reports

Report of the [1998-1999] Special Committee to Review the Freedom of Information & Protection of Privacy Act, July 15, 1999

New law a big leap for privacy rights in BC, but government must fund it adequately

Vancouver – FIPA, BC’s leading advocacy group for freedom of information and privacy rights, is declaring legislation introduced this week by the BC Liberals “an enormous leap for privacy rights.” But the group is also warning that the law will be a failure unless the government gives BC’s Information and Privacy Commissioner adequate resources to enforce it.

The Personal Information Protection Act will require every private-sector organization in BC to institute a privacy code regulating the way they collect, use and disclose the personal information of clients, customers and employees.

“The new act is a breakthrough for privacy rights at a time when personal privacy faces unprecedented threats,” stated Gerry Fahey, president of the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (FIPA). “People are concerned about the explosion in the amount of information about them that is being collected and scrutinized in the private sector, and they are concerned that this information has passed totally out of their control.”

“This act goes a long way in giving citizens some control over their information and making organizations responsible and accountable for their practices, but it will only be enforceable and effective if the government devotes the necessary resources to it.”

“The act mandates a strong oversight and enforcement role for the Commissioner, but the budget of the Commissioner’s office has just been slashed by 35 percent,” continued Fahey. “The office has lost much of its staff and is already overwhelmed just with enforcing the current freedom of information act.

“The government must show it is serious about FOI and privacy rights by giving the office the resources it requires to fulfill both its current mandate and this new responsibility.”

The legislation gives the public new privacy rights, including the right to consent to how their personal information is collected, used and disclosed; to see the information organizations collect about them; to demand that false information be corrected; and to make complaints to BC’s Information and Privacy commissioner if the law is broken.

FIPA was part of a government consultation process over the new act that lasted over six months. “We were pleased at how far the bill progressed. We’re not saying that the act is perfect, but we give it a high “B” grade,” stated Fahey.

[download the Letter to the Hon. Sandy Santori, Minister of Government Services]