In Memoriam: Richard Rosenberg (1939-2019)

It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the passing of Dr. Richard Rosenberg, Emeritus Professor in the Department of Computer Science of UBC, former President of the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, and lifelong advocate for privacy rights.

Below are messages about Richard from FIPA’s President, Mike Larsen, and former Executive Directors, Darrell Evans and Vincent Gogolek.

Mike Larsen:

Richard’s involvement with FIPA dates back to 1998, when he joined the Board of Advisors and sat on our Legislation and Policy Committee. He was elected President of the Board of Directors in 2005, and he served in that role for ten years. This was a time of enormous transformation in the information and privacy rights field, and Richard provided leadership and guidance as FIPA dealt with the expansion of state and private sector surveillance, government efforts to circumvent transparency laws, and the privacy implications of an increasingly interconnected world. Richard’s professional expertise in computer science was always accompanied by a passionate concern for ethics and the impact of technology on civil liberties.  

In 2017, Richard received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the BC Civil Liberties Association, in recognition of his contributions to the advancement of privacy rights, both Canada and internationally.

I will remember Richard as a kind, funny, and thoughtful person, an outstanding leader, and a strong advocate whose approach to emerging issues was always guided by a commitment to privacy as a cornerstone of civil liberties.

Richard will be deeply missed by all of us at FIPA, and his energy and inspiration will continue to inform our work to protect and advance information and privacy rights.


Mike Larsen
President, BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association

Darrell Evans:

Richard Rosenberg was a man of great intelligence, sensitivity, loyalty and compassion. But I would emphasize compassion above all. 

He was a passionate teacher and a joy to work with on freedom of information and privacy issues. I had the great fortune to work with him for over 15 years, and I am proud to claim him as a friend and colleague. 

Richard must have had his faults, but through all those years, I witnessed very few. Thinking of him now, I feel a note of purity that is really rare. I hope his family’s grief is softened by a similar memory.

Darrell Evans, Founder and Executive Director (Retired), BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association

Vincent Gogolek:

It was my pleasure and privilege to serve as Executive Director during Richard Rosenberg’s tenure as FIPA’s President. During that time, we faced many challenges both for the Association and for society as a whole. Richard’s excellent leadership, fine judgement and vast knowledge were an anchor for myself and for FIPA, and his constant hard work and devotion to making this province, this country, and the world a better place were an inspiration.

We have lost a very special person, but Richard is, and will continue to be, a beacon for all of us who continue the journey toward better information rights.

Vincent Gogolek
Executive Director (Retired), BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association

We have a new addition to our Board of Directors!

We are pleased to introduce Nazli Jelveh as the newest member of FIPA’s Board of Directors.

After completing her undergraduate studies in mathematics, she attended Osgoode Hall Law School and obtained her JD in 2018. Currently, she works as an articling law student at a boutique law firm in downtown Vancouver and will soon be called to the bar of BC.

Join us in giving a warm welcome to Nazli!

A step towards accountability

Media Release

A small step towards open and transparent government

Vancouver, February 5, 2019 – The B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association is pleased with the recommendations made by the province’s top watchdogs to bring the Legislative Assembly of B.C. under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).

Signed by Information and Privacy Commissioner Michael McEvoy, Merit Commissioner Fiona Spencer, and Ombudsperson Jay Chalke, the recommendations called for the Legislature to “meet the same standards” that 2,900 other provincial public bodies are subject to. 

While opening the Legislature to freedom of information rules is a welcome sight, the move is ultimately just one of the steps to a full reform that FIPA has been calling for in the past two decades. “This is just one little piece of the puzzle and there’s a whole lot of reform that we’re trying to get,” says Executive Director Sara Neuert. “We continue to be in reactionary mode and we need to move a step further and be proactive.”

These recommendations will only act to prevent the exact same scandal from repeating itself, more effective change would address a broader scale of freedom of information reform.

The Special Committee to Review the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) drafted in May of 2016 has made calls for a comprehensive reform, which would include the enactment of a Duty to Document, penalties for interference, and addressing the exceptions and loopholes that can be routinely exploited during any FOI proceedings.

These comprehensive reforms are the only measures that will provide government transparency and establish a system of accountability that will prevent future government scandals from occurring.

Contact:

Sara Neuert, Executive Director

BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association

Email: fipa (at) fipa.bc.ca

Phone: 604-739-9788

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Scandal at Legislative Assembly demonstrates need for Law Reform

Media Release

Scandal at Legislative Assembly demonstrates need for Law Reform

Vancouver, January 24, 2019 – The need for reforming British Columbia’s outdated Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) is evidenced by the recent scandal concerning misconduct and lack of oversight at B.C.’s Legislative Assembly.

Allegations made by house speaker Darryl Plecas reflect the ‘black holes’ that exist in the transparency of government bodies, such as the legislature and office of the parliamentarians.

“The Legislative Assembly is outside the jurisdiction of freedom of information requests,” says Sara Neuert, executive director of BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association. “It’s a shortcoming of government transparency and accountability. We would have learned of this sooner had we been able to place legislature offices under scrutiny.”

Sweeping amendments to the FIPPA have been repeatedly put forward by FIPA over the past 15-years. Recommendations for change were also presented in the last Special Legislative Committee report published in May 2016 – echoing the calls for additions such as mandating a ‘duty to document’ and administering real repercussions to government officials who impede the FOI process. So far, the current government has made several commitments to advancing reform, though steps leading towards actual change have yet to arrive.

Bringing legislature offices under the dominion of FOI laws is not an impossibility and can be enacted rather swiftly. While doing so would be a welcome step towards modernizing the province’s FOI laws, it would ultimately be just a step. What the province truly needs – and has needed for years – are comprehensive reforms, only then can the government be held accountable by the taxpaying public. 

Contact:

Sara Neuert, Executive Director

BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association

Email: fipa (at) fipa.bc.ca

Phone: 604-739-9788

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