FOI WATCHDOG SAYS WRIST SLAP OPENS THE DOOR TO ABUSE
BC’s Information and Privacy Commissioner has found BC Ferries’ FOI policy operates in a way that ‘frustrates the purposes of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act’, but has declined to do anything concrete about it.
After being put back under the Act following criticism from FIPA and the Comptroller General, BC Ferries decided to post records released to FOI requesters on the web at the same time (or sometimes before) providing them to the requester. FIPA complained to the Commissioner, saying BC Ferries was violating British Columbians’ access rights and failing in their legal duty to assist requesters.
Commissioner Denham declined to find the company had either violated the rights of requesters or breached the duty to assist. Instead, she issued a set of guidelines for public bodies that might adopt similar schemes, including recommending a 24 hour delay before posting requested information to the Web.
“We are disappointed that the Commissioner has only given a slap on the wrist and a flabby recommendation to BC Ferries for running a scheme she says frustrates the very purpose of the law,” said FIPA Executive Director Vincent Gogolek. “BC Ferries has a duty to assist requesters and we don’t see how a system designed to frustrate requesters can comply with the law.”