August 28, 2014
BC FIPA asks Information and Privacy Commissioner to investigate overcollection
VANCOUVER, B.C.—A number of police departments across BC are asking some very intrusive questions, and not about criminals under investigation.
The BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association has filed a complaint with the Information and Privacy Commissioner asking her to look into the types of questions police departments are asking people who are looking to join them as volunteers or employees.
FIPA first became aware of this situation when a potential volunteer approached us with a complaint about the amount and kind of personal information being requested in a 25 page questionnaire. It included questions about credit cards, loans, and use of drugs and pornography. There are also questions about whether the applicant has ever collected unemployment insurance or social assistance. A substantially similar questionnaire is used by departments across B.C., indicating that this is a systemic problem.
“The types of questions that are being asked are extremely intrusive, especially for people who are just volunteering their time,” said FIPA Executive Director Vincent Gogolek. “Police are subject to the public sector privacy law, which sets a standard that a reasonable person would consider the collection of personal information is appropriate in the circumstances.”
The application also includes a statement that applicants’ responses will be verified by background checks and a polygraph test.
“We appreciate that police departments have to be very careful about who they hire because of police officers’ access to special powers and confidential information,” Gogolek said. “Hopefully the Commissioner will examine this situation and ensure people do not have to hand over unreasonable amounts of personal information when applying for jobs or volunteer positions.”
Vincent Gogolek, Executive Director
Office: 604-739-9788 Cell: 604-318-0031
E mail: Vincent [at] fipa.bc.ca