Landmark court ruling upholds right of access to electronic records

A ruling handed down on January 13 by the Ontario Court of Appeal is “a landmark decision that upholds the principles of openness and transparency as applied to electronic records,” said Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian.

The Court allowed appeals by the Commissioner and a Toronto Star reporter from a Divisional Court ruling and restored the Commissioner’s Order applying the definition of “record” in section 2 of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to electronic databases maintained by the Toronto Police Services Board.

In that Order, the Commissioner held that the need to develop a computer program to anonymize personally identifiable information held in the databases would not result in the creation of new records outside the scope of Ontario’s freedom of information legislation.

In its ruling, the Court directed the Toronto Police Services Board to respond to the Star’s requests immediately and to pay the newspaper’s legal costs.

News release

Article, Toronto Star