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

Friday, December 28, 2012

Redaction in action


An interesting document which came embedded recently in a much-larger provincial Access to Information return:

ATI Transcript You might notice that this document is a transcript of a CBC Radio program. The content was broadcast on the open airwaves. Then it was written down. Then it was blacked out. The redactions were justified on the basis of s. 30(1) of the Access to Information Act, a provision which was brought in by the Progressive Conservatives, but in 2007, before Bill 29:
Disclosure of House of Assembly service and statutory office records 
30.1 The Speaker of the House of Assembly or the officer responsible for a statutory office shall refuse to disclose to an applicant information
(a) where its non-disclosure is required for the purpose of avoiding an infringement of the privileges of the House of Assembly or a member of the House of Assembly; 
(b) that is advice or a recommendation given to the speaker or the Clerk of the House of Assembly or the House of Assembly Management Commission established under the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act that is not required by law to be disclosed or placed in the minutes of the House of Assembly Management Commission; and 
(c) in the case of a statutory office as defined in the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act, records connected with the investigatory functions of the statutory office.

UPDATE 1: The redactions were actually justified on the basis of s. 30(1) of the Act:
30. (1) The head of a public body shall refuse to disclose personal information to an applicant where the disclosure would be an unreasonable invasion of a third party's personal privacy.
If you are keenly interested to know what information was blacked out, including the name of the interview subject and in extenso portions of what he or she told Dorothy King on the open airwaves, the podcast is still available for listening or downloading here.

VERY IMPORTANT UPDATE 2: Despite the presence of details in the ATI return excerpt which might suggest otherwise, the redacted document was not returned pursuant to a request to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, but rather through a request made to the Department of Justice. In fact, an unredacted version of the same document was released in a separate request made to the OIPC.

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At 10:52 PM, January 05, 2013 , Blogger One Woman said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 12:19 AM, January 06, 2013 , Blogger Peter McBreairty said...

This post just came to my attention via the article in today’s Telegram.

If I understand this correctly, two access requests were made for this information; one to the Department of Justice and one to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner. The Department of Justice relied on section 30(1) to withhold the personal information (which happens to be my personal information). The OIPC felt justified in disclosing the information.

Section 30(1) is a mandatory exception to disclosure. In other words, the public body is required to withhold personal information. In fact, under the ATIPPA, it is an offense to wilfully disclose the personal information contrary to Part IV.

In my opinion, when an individual is willingly interviewed by the media, there is an implied consent to the disclosure of that information. I don’t think the Commissioner is losing any sleep over the disclosure of my personal information, as this was not “an unreasonable invasion” of my personal privacy. The Department of Justice must have their own reasons for withholding the information; reasons which had nothing to do with section 30(1) or the legislation.

As a general comment, I have found our provincial government much more concerned with controlling the media’s message by restricting the flow of information than they are with following the provisions of the ATIPPA.

Offence 72. A person who wilfully (a) discloses personal information contrary to Part IV; … is guilty of an offence and liable, on summary conviction, to a fine of not more than $5,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months, or to both.

Peter McBreairty


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