Established in 1993, the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner provides independent oversight and enforcement of B.C.'s access and privacy laws, including:
- The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act ("FIPPA"), which applies to over 2,900 "public bodies" including ministries, local governments, schools, crown corporations, hospitals, municipal police forces, and more;
- The Personal Information Protection Act ("PIPA"), which applies to over 380,000 private sector "organizations" including businesses, charities, associations, trade unions and trusts.
Drew McArthur is B.C.'s Acting Information and Privacy Commissioner.
The Commissioner has the power to:
- Investigate, mediate and resolve appeals concerning access to information disputes, including issuing binding orders;
- Investigate and resolve privacy complaints;
- Initiate Commissioner-led investigations and audits of public bodies or organizations, if there are reasonable grounds of non-compliance or if it is in the public interest;
- Comment on the access and privacy implications of proposed legislation, programs or policies;
- Comment on the privacy implications of new technologies and/or data matching schemes;
- Conduct research into anything affecting access and privacy rights; and
- Educate and inform the public about their access and privacy rights and the relevant laws.
The Information and Privacy Commissioner oversees the information and privacy practices of public bodies and private organizations that collect, use or disclose "personal information." This can include companies who have a location in B.C. but are headquartered elsewhere.
However, not every agency operating in B.C. is within our jurisdiction. For example, the information and privacy practices of federal entities like banks, airlines, telecommunications companies, and the RCMP are regulated by the Canadian Information Commissioner or the Canadian Privacy Commissioner.
The B.C. Privacy Act covers disputes between private citizens and is not overseen by the Commissioner's office.