Statement about Right to Know Week

B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham released the following statement in recognition of Right to Know Week, Sept. 28 to Oct. 4, 2015: “I am delighted to join my colleagues across Canada and around the world in celebration of Right to Know Week. This international movement raises awareness of the rights of all citizens to access information that is held by public bodies. It also showcases the benefits of open and accessible government."

“I believe that a guarantee of public access to government information is indispensable in the long run for any democratic society…. if officials make public only what they want citizens to know, then publicity becomes a sham and accountability meaningless.” - Sissela Bok, Swedish philosopher (1982).

Right to Know Week is here

The purpose of Right to Know Week is to raise awareness of our rights to access government information. Right to Know also promotes freedom of information as an essential element to both democracy and good governance. Here are some other Fast Facts about Right to Know Week:

Happy FOI Friday!

Have you ever wondered how to make a Freedom of Information request? Read on to review an infographic that explains each step in the process.

Addressing growing caseloads

The Information and Privacy Commissioner receives hundreds of complaints and appeals from British Columbians each year. These numbers have increased significantly in recent years. And we aren’t alone: privacy and access to information commissioners in Canada and beyond are experiencing big increases in case volumes that are challenging them to deliver timely service to the public.

Out of office tips and tricks

It’s not always possible to get all your work done in eight hours. Sometimes taking work home is unavoidable. But whenever personal information is accessed outside of the office there is an increased risk that it could be lost or compromised. Public bodies and private organizations must keep paper and electronic records safe and secure as required by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (“FIPPA”) and the Personal Information Protection Act (“PIPA”).

Anti-spam tips and tricks

When Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL) came into effect on July 1, 2014, our email inboxes became a lot easier to manage. But spam can still find its way onto computers. More than merely annoying, these unwanted emails can launch malicious spyware into our inboxes and compromise our privacy. Fortunately, there are some simple actions you can take to help minimize the risk.

“Historically, privacy was almost implicit, because it was hard to find and gather information. But in the digital world, whether it's digital cameras or satellites or just what you click on, we need to have more explicit rules –not just for governments but for private companies.” - Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, Wired.com (Nov 12, 2013)

“I believe privacy as a fundamental value is important to us. The Internet has not diminished its importance to citizens and consumers. Privacy is about preserving our sense of self. Private time and private space are necessary to reflect, share intimacies, create friendships and address problems. Privacy means we, not others, control what information we share, and in what contexts.” - Elizabeth Denham, Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia, Op ed, Vancouver Sun, Friday Jan. 28, 2011.

“Bill C-51 opens the door to collecting, analyzing and potentially keeping forever the personal information of all Canadians in order to find the virtual needle in the haystack. To my mind, that goes too far.” Daniel Therrien, Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Op ed, The Globe and Mail, Friday, March 6, 2015.

“In my view, privacy and research are partners, not adversaries, in the pursuit of better health outcomes. Protecting privacy and promoting research are both laudable public policy goals and both are important to British Columbians.” - Elizabeth Denham, Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia, Op ed, Vancouver Sun, Thursday, August 16, 2012.

Toying with privacy

From talking dolls to miniature versions of Mom and Dad’s cell phones, tablets, and smart watches, store shelves are piled high this season with the latest versions of internet connected toys. As digital technologies advance, more connected toys will come onto the marketplace. Here are some tips to protect your family's privacy.

Is a BYOD program right for you?

“Bring Your Own Device” or BYOD is becoming increasingly popular for many private sector organizations. But balancing the protection of corporate information with customer and employee privacy rights can be a challenging exercise, involving policy, training, and technical solutions. Here are some tips to consider.

“Last Thursday, I released a report about a breach involving a lost portable hard drive containing the educational data of 3.4 million individuals. Information assets, particularly the personal information of citizens, deserve the same respect, rigour and control as the management of financial assets… a loss, for example, of $3.4 million would be highly unlikely.” -- Elizabeth Denham, Information and Privacy Commissioner for B.C., from a speech to the 17th Annual Privacy & Security Conference, Victoria, B.C., Feb.5, 2016.

“The best weapon of a dictatorship is secrecy, but the best weapon of a democracy should be the weapon of openness.” Niels Bohr. Danish physicist (1885-1962).

New study asks, "Who's tracking whom?"

They’re like having your own personal trainer – at a fraction of the cost. But findings from a study by researchers at the University of Toronto reveal that fitness trackers, the popular wearable devices that track our steps, calories, sleep, and other data, may also be tracking us.

Tips and tricks for Fraud Prevention Month

We’ve all experienced it: a suspicious email, a nuisance call, or offer that’s just too good to be true. From pyramid schemes to spammers and scammers, Canadians lose millions of dollars every year to electronic fraud.

“We are at the dawn of a watershed change in the amount of data out there about us. It is created by us, about us. The stakes are high: will we use it for personal insight, and to build smarter, more sustainable communities, or will we use it for control, surveillance, and profit? Only by understanding the revolution already underway can we debate where we want it to go.” – Nora Young, The Virtual Self: How Our Digital Lives Are Altering the World Around Us (McClelland & Stewart, 2012).

Privacy Commissioner of Canada calls for submissions on consent and privacy

B.C.’s Personal Information Protection Act (“PIPA”) sets out how the province’s 380,000-plus private-sector “organizations” can collect, use, and disclose personal information. Personal information held by a federally regulated organization, such as a bank or telephone company; however, is protected by the federal Personal Information and Electronic Document Act, or “PIPEDA”.

September 26 – Oct 2 is Right to Know Week!

Today kicks off our celebration of Right to Know Week, dedicated to the promotion of freedom of information worldwide. Originating in Bulgaria in 2002, the right to know movement is celebrated by approximately 40 countries and 60 non-governmental organizations on September 28 every year.

In the clouds and beyond! Navigating access and storage outside of Canada

Are you tempted by the potential benefits of cloud-computing? The option can be appealing, as the service often cuts costs and removes obstacles for users looking to reduce IT infrastructure and maintenance. Before you reach for the clouds, make sure you know the legal requirements that apply when processing and storing personal information outside of Canada.

Data Privacy Day 2018 - Respecting privacy, safeguarding data and enabling trust

Let’s face it – protecting data in our digital society isn’t easy. Devices intended to improve our lives also collect an astounding amount of information about you, your family, and friends. Voice assistant technology, connected devices, and apps that give you remote access to your home sound pretty convenient. But before you unlock your front door with your phone, think about this: in 2016, 2.2 billion data records were compromised and vulnerabilities were uncovered in products and services, such as baby monitors and door locks. Yikes!

Secondary use of your personal information

How many times a day are you asked for your email, telephone number, postal code, or birth date? Probably more than you might realize. Think about when you go to the grocery store, the pharmacy, or to a clothing or electronics store. Many retailers ask for your email to connect purchase history with future promotional offers to better tailor potential discounts with your spending habits. But is this legal? Well, it all comes down to the purpose for which the information was collected.

Does the GDPR apply to your BC-based organization?

You probably noticed a flurry of emails in your inbox over the past few weeks, as everything from social media apps to your email provider to your fridge rush to send you privacy policy updates. Why now, you ask? Well, it has to do with a new privacy law called the GDPR.