"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Freeom from Information: going "meta" edition (II)

John R. Cummings pays a lot of lip service to words like "transparency" and "accountability", and even lights up the ongoing issue of access to electronic documents, while at the same time buying into the Williams Provincial Government's deliberately luddite policy of making electronic records as utterly useless as possible.

Without any further discussion of this important point to shed light on his secret reasoning, Mr. Cummings says:
It is recommended that public bodies should provide information to applicants in electronic form when requested, provided it is reasonable to do so and security measures have been taken to ensure the integrity of the document will remain.
This is Williams Provincial Government code for copy protection or non-textual scanning of records to make sure that the information contained therein cannot easily be copied, shared with others, or analyzed.

The perverse result of this, of course, is that by forcing users of government publications to manually transcribe data which could have been provided in useful electronic formats, but deliberately was not, the "integrity" of the document stands a much greater change of being grossly violated by simple human transcription errors.

Exhibit A: the Review of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, John R. Cummings, Q.C., Review Commissioner, dated January 2011... which you are not permitted to copy:

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At 8:06 PM, January 27, 2011 , Blogger Edward Hollett said...

I needed to cut and paste a portion of the report into another document to ensure I had an exact quote.

Cumming's settings made that impossible. At least he didn't create a jpeg out of it as gov likes to do to frustrate searching.

it would be so nice if anyone connected to access in this province actually accepted the basic idea that ordinary people had a right of access to information as opposed to a right to take whatever they decide we deserve to see.

At 10:37 PM, January 27, 2011 , Blogger One Woman said...

If you open the document in the full version of Adobe Acrobat (rather than Adobe Reader) you can optimize the document text by applying optical character recognition (OCR) so that you can copy and paste text from the document.

If all else fails, you can print the text document, scan it with Adobe Acrobat, applying your own setting so that content can be copied.

What hoops you have to jump through to access information from this government which claims to be open, transparent and accountable.

You can always download a trial version of Adobe Acrobat - good for 30 days. (

“The cornerstone of the ATIPPA is openness, transparency and accountability, and our government is committed to this important piece of legislation. The completion of this review fulfills a key piece of our ATIPPA.” Minster Collins

At 1:23 AM, January 28, 2011 , Blogger WJM said...

At least he didn't create a jpeg out of it as gov likes to do to frustrate searching.

Don't encourage them.


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