On the podcast: The History of FIPPA (Part 2)

This episode continues our story on the history of BC’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act by exploring what’s gone wrong since the Act was passed.

We begin in the year 1996, when a new NDP government under Premier Glen Clark is taking office in BC. You’ll hear about why former Premier Clark limited the budget for the administration of the Act and how court decisions weakened the Act’s original spirit and intent.

Then, we’ll take a look at some legislative amendments that could help realign the Act with its original spirit and intent. This episode features more interviews with all of the experts featured in the first episode, including FIPA co-founders, former and current BC Information and Privacy Commissioners, and many more.

NDP celebrates Liberal’s ineffective ‘Duty to document’

Image of Jinny Sims courtesy of BC NDP and used under CC-by-2.0

Vancouver, April 1, 2019A statement released yesterday by the Ministry of Citizens’ Services, which claims that “new legislative changes improve transparency and accountability for British Columbians,” is a significant misrepresentation of an effective duty to document and is a distraction from the pressing reforms that are necessary for BC’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).

Creating a legislated duty to document within FIPPA has been called for by an all-party Special Legislative Committee that reviewed the Act in 2016, and by Information and Privacy Commissioners David Loukidelis and Elizabeth Denham.

These “new” legislative changes that NDP Minister Jinny Sims is promoting were actually initiated by the Liberal party in 2017. At that time, FIPA issued a press release that called the Liberal bill “a sad excuse for action on creating a duty to document government decisions” in the wake of the Triple Delete scandal that revealed an organized campaign to destroy government records.

In fact, the NDP put forward a private member’s bill at that time that proposed an actual duty to document in comparison to the Liberal’s ineffective bill.

In a statement issued by the Ministry of Finance in 2017, Liberal Minister Michael de Jong had claimed that their ineffective bill would “formalize this good practice in legislation while ensuring that British Columbia remains at the forefront of information management with strong oversight and consistent practice across government.”

Now, two years later, NDP Minister Jinny Sims is claiming that the same ineffective legislative change also “formalizes government’s obligation to document decisions and helps ensure records of decisions are available and accessible.”

The statements from the NDP and Liberal MLAs, made two years apart, are remarkably similar and entirely misleading. FIPA wants to see the creation of a meaningful duty to document—more in line with what the NDP was proposing two years ago—which would include:

  • The creation of mandatory documentation procedures. A discretionary duty to document is not sufficient.
  • Clear oversight from the Information and Privacy Commissioner.
  • The legislative change should be to the FIPPA, which affects over 2,900 public bodies, not the Information Management Act, which merely affects 41.

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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On the podcast: The History of FIPPA

On this episode of the show, we go back to a time before British Columbia had freedom of information or privacy laws—to the year 1990—and find out what it was like to request information from government.

Then, we find out how a small group of dedicated individuals were able to advocate, draft, and ultimately bring about B.C.’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, bringing this province one step closer to the ideal of open government.

We’ll hear about how the new legislation offered the promise of greater government transparency and accountability, and about what’s transpired in the nearly thirty years since the Act was passed.

Guests on this episode include: FIPA co-founder Darrell Evans, FIPA co-founder and former Information and Privacy Commissioner David Loukidelis, current Information and Privacy Commissioner Michael McEvoy, former Attorney General Colin Gableman, former MLA Barry Jones, current MP Murray Rankin, and the Vancouver Sun’s legislative reporter Vaughn Palmer.

In Memorial: 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