Following a scathing statement from the Representative for Children and Youth, and with the Privacy Commissioner and Auditor General also looking at the situation, several non-profit groups and privacy advocates have written to Premier Christy Clark seeking a public inquiry into the $200 million Integrated Case Management (ICM) project. The letter to the Premier is available online.
The ICM system was supposed to create a comprehensive personal data sharing system involving not just the provincial government, but also hundreds of independent community service organizations contracted to provide government services. It was supposed to provide “the right information, to the right people, at the right time.” Instead, there has been a litany of concerns over the system, such as whether sensitive personal information is being properly captured, training difficulties, and “overwhelming” technical issues.
The government amended the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) to make this system possible, despite warnings about the dangers to personal privacy rights and the high profile failures of similar projects in the past.
“In terms of training and daily use, the ICM and related systems have proven to be failures,” said FIPA Executive Director Vincent Gogolek. “This is quite apart from the very serious dangers it poses to privacy rights, which Commissioner Denham is now looking into. We need a public inquiry to look at all the failings of the system.”
“The problems with the ICM are inherent in the system’s very concept, design and technological architecture,” said Micheal Vonn, Policy Director with the BC Civil Liberties Association. “That is why we need a public inquiry.” The BCCLA’s letter can be found here.
A 2010 report by FIPA and the BCCLA entitled Culture of Care…or Culture of Surveillance? set out serious concerns about the ICM system, regarding privacy rights and the potential effect of the program on social services and the independent community service organizations themselves. It can be a found here.
“The potential for privacy breaches within the ICM can endanger the health and well-being of British Columbians who suffer from highly stigmatized medical conditions,” said Ken Buchanan, chair of Positive Living BC. “Our clients need a system that protects their privacy and the ICM is clearly not that system. We need to know why this happened.” Positive Living’s letter can be found here.