Investigation Reports

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The Information and Privacy Commissioner has the legal authority to investigate the programs, policies or information systems of public bodies and private organizations in order to assess compliance with B.C.'s access and privacy laws, and also to comment on new developments.

Where there is a compelling public interest, or where a systemic investigation has taken place, the Commissioner may publish a detailed investigation report that sets out the particulars of that investigation including any findings of law and recommendations.

Leading Cases contain extensive discussion of a specific section of the Act. Consult the sectional index to learn more.

Year
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Report Date Title
Summary
F16-01 Jan 28, 2016 Ministry of Education This report details the circumstances surrounding the loss of a portable hard drive by the Ministry ... more
This report details the circumstances surrounding the loss of a portable hard drive by the Ministry of Education containing the personal information of 3.4 million BC and Yukon students and teachers.
F15-03 Oct 22, 2015 Access Denied: Record Retention and Disposal Practices of the Government of British Columbia Access to information rights can only exist when public bodies create the conditions for those right... more
Access to information rights can only exist when public bodies create the conditions for those rights to be exercised. Government must promote a culture of access, from executive leadership to front-line employees. If they fail to meet this obligation, the access to information process is rendered ineffective.
F15-02 Jul 2, 2015 Review of the Mount Polley mine tailings pond failure and public interest disclosure by public bodies The Mount Polley mine tailings pond dam failure on August 4, 2014, was a serious environmental disas... more
The Mount Polley mine tailings pond dam failure on August 4, 2014, was a serious environmental disaster. In the wake of the tailings pond breach, government initiated three separate investigations to determine what went wrong, including an Independent Expert Engineering Investigation and Review Panel, whose final report on the mine tailings pond breach was published on January 30, 2015.
F15-01 Mar 30, 2015 Use of Employee Monitoring Software by the District of Saanich In the context of information technology and information management, public bodies have two related ... more
In the context of information technology and information management, public bodies have two related and important responsibilities: to maintain a high level of security over its data and networks, and to respect the personal privacy of employees and citizens.
F14-01 Apr 15, 2014 Use of Police Information Checks in British Columbia This report examines the increasing use of employment-related record checks, specifically what are k... more
This report examines the increasing use of employment-related record checks, specifically what are known as police information checks.
F13-05 Dec 2, 2013 Public Body Disclosure of information under Section 25 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act Section 25 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (“FIPPA”) contains two ground... more
Section 25 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (“FIPPA”) contains two grounds upon which public bodies are obligated to provide the public with timely information. One is where there is a significant risk of harm to the environment or to health or safety of the public and the other is where this information is, for any other reason, clearly in the public interest. These provisions override every other provision of FIPPA.
F13-04 Aug 1, 2013 Sharing of Personal Information as Part of the Draft Multicultural Strategic Outreach Plan The Commissioner initiated this investigation to determine whether there was sharing of personal inf... more
The Commissioner initiated this investigation to determine whether there was sharing of personal information between the Government of British Columbia and the BC Liberal Party as part of the Outreach Plan and, if there was, whether this sharing was authorized under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (“FIPPA”) and the Personal Information Protection Act (“PIPA”).
F13-03 Jul 25, 2013 Evaluating the Government of British Columbia's Open Government Initiative This report evaluates the Government of British Columbia’s open government initiative and whether it... more
This report evaluates the Government of British Columbia’s open government initiative and whether it promotes transparency and accountability in practice. I make eighteen recommendations to strengthen BC’s open government initiative and ensure its sustainability over the long term.
F13-02 Jun 26, 2013 Ministry of Health This investigation examined three breaches of personal health data for research purposes that happen... more
This investigation examined three breaches of personal health data for research purposes that happened because the Ministry failed to translate privacy and security policies into meaningful business practices.
F13-01 Mar 4, 2013 Increase in No Responsive Records to General Access to Information Requests: Government of British Columbia This report investigates the growth of “no responsive records” replies by the Government of British ... more
This report investigates the growth of “no responsive records” replies by the Government of British Columbia in response to the general access to information requests of citizens. It also reports on five specific instances of “no responsive records” replies to requests made to government relating to the September 2012 resignation of the Premier’s Chief of Staff.
F12-04 Nov 15, 2012 Use of Automated Licence Plate Recognition technology by the Victoria Police Department This report examines the use of Automated Licence Plate Recognition (ALPR) technology by the Victori... more
This report examines the use of Automated Licence Plate Recognition (ALPR) technology by the Victoria Police Department. The report makes four recommendations.
F12-03 Jul 25, 2012 Use Of Employment-Related Criminal Record Checks: Government Of British Columbia This investigation report examines whether the Government of British Columbia is conducting employme... more
This investigation report examines whether the Government of British Columbia is conducting employment record checks in compliance with FIPPA. The report also includes best practices for employment-based record checks, which will be of use to government as well as other public bodies.
F12-02 Mar 29, 2012 University of Victoria On January 9, 2012 the University of Victoria notified the OIPC of a break-in that had occurred on c... more
On January 9, 2012 the University of Victoria notified the OIPC of a break-in that had occurred on campus. Among the items stolen was a USB key containing the personal information of current and former UVic employees. The Commissioner initiated an investigation in order to determine whether the University met its obligation to protect personal information as per section 30 of FIPPA.
F12-01 Feb 16, 2012 Investigation Into The Use Of Facial Recognition Technology By The Insurance Corporation Of British Columbia This investigation report examines the privacy issues associated with the use of facial recognition ... more
This investigation report examines the privacy issues associated with the use of facial recognition technology by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (“ICBC”).
F11-03 Dec 19, 2011 British Columbia Hydro And Power Authority Investigation into the privacy and security of BC Hydro's smart meters.
F11-02 May 16, 2011 Investigation Into The Simultaneous Disclosure Practice Of BC Ferries In response to a complaint about the practice of BC Ferry Services Inc. to publicly post responses t... more
In response to a complaint about the practice of BC Ferry Services Inc. to publicly post responses to access to information requests, either before or at the same time as they are provided to the applicant, the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia conducted an investigation. The investigation examined both the practice of simultaneous disclosure as well as the general practice of proactive disclosure. On the key issue of simultaneous disclosure, the Commissioner recommended a minimum delay of 24 hours between the applicant’s receipt of the response and the time the response is publicly posted. There should be a further delay upon request by the applicant on reasonable grounds.
F11-01 Feb 15, 2011 Investigation Into A Privacy Breach Of Customers' Personal Information By The British Columbia Lottery Corporation The OIPC investigated a privacy breach of personal information of the BC Lottery Corporation's PlayN... more
The OIPC investigated a privacy breach of personal information of the BC Lottery Corporation's PlayNow.com website, which occurred on July 15, 2010. Given the security risks of an online gaming website, The Commissioner also conducted a second, broader investigation into the general security of the online platform to ensure personal information was adequately protected
F10-02 Mar 5, 2010 Review Of The Electronic Health Information System At Vancouver Coastal Health Authority Known As The Primary Access Regional Information System (“Paris”) The electronic health record system at Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (“VCH”) known as the Prima... more
The electronic health record system at Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (“VCH”) known as the Primary Access Regional Information System (“PARIS”) was introduced in 2001 for its community-based programs. It is accessed by staff and contractors involved in the delivery of a wide range of health services outside of acute care hospitals. The personal information contained in PARIS is highly sensitive. It includes diagnoses as well as the case notes of physicians, nurses and counsellors about the treatment they provide to their clients. The purpose of this investigation is to evaluate VCH’s compliance with the requirements of FIPPA in its collection, use and disclosure of personal information in PARIS.
F10-01 Feb 8, 2010 Ministry Of Housing and Social Development, Ministry Of Children And Family Development On April 7, 2009 an employee of the Ministry of Children and Family Development (“MCFD”) was arreste... more
On April 7, 2009 an employee of the Ministry of Children and Family Development (“MCFD”) was arrested by the RCMP on suspicion of fraudulently obtaining identification. During the course of the search of the employee’s home, RCMP officers discovered that the employee had over 400 pages of government documents containing sensitive personal information about more than 1,400 clients of the Ministry of Housing and Social Development and MCFD. This report results from the OIPC’s investigation into the government’s response to the police discovery of sensitive personal information.
F09-01 Oct 8, 2009 Investigation Into Disclosure Of Jurors' Personal Information By The Insurance Corporation Of British Columbia In April 2009, ICBC advised a trial court judge that an ICBC claims adjuster had provided personal i... more
In April 2009, ICBC advised a trial court judge that an ICBC claims adjuster had provided personal information about the trial's jurors to the external defence counsel retained by ICBC for the trial. ICBC conducted its own internal investigation of all the jury trials that could be identified since 2000 and determined that there were five other similar incidents of jury checking. The OIPC's investigation reviewed ICBC policies and practices. While ICBC had policies in place to prohibit jury checking, those policies had not succeeded in preventing these occurrences. ICBC should focus on more specific training for claims adjusters and better communication and awareness of ICBC's privacy policies for external defence counsel.
F08-03 Nov 4, 2008 Ministry Of Children & Family Development A reporter with the Victoria Times-Colonist newspaper requested records from the Ministry of Childre... more
A reporter with the Victoria Times-Colonist newspaper requested records from the Ministry of Children and Family Development regarding the Ministry’s Sexual Abuse Intervention Program (SAIP). The Ministry provided records, including a copy of a report about the SAIP program, which the Ministry had partially severed under discretionary sections of FIPPA. The applicant later obtained an unsevered version of the report through other means and complained to this office about the Ministry’s decisions in severing under FIPPA. This report relates to the SAIP Report itself, not its appendices, and examines only issues related to s. 13 of FIPPA.
F08-02 May 7, 2008 Ministry of Health Four computer tapes containing personal information of residents of British Columbia and New Brunswi... more
Four computer tapes containing personal information of residents of British Columbia and New Brunswick who received medical services outside their home province was couriered from New Brunswick to Health Insurance BC, a contractor for the Ministry of Health in British Columbia. They never arrived at HIBC. The information was on magnetic tapes and was not protected by encryption. This method of transferring personal information did not meet the security measures required under s. 30 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The Ministry’s policies and practices resulted in failure to ensure the tape loss was detected in a timely way. The Ministry also failed to notify affected individuals and the OIPC in a timely way. After the loss was discovered, the Ministry took appropriate action to mitigate risk to the affected individuals. After the incident, the Ministry ceased exchanging unencrypted personal information of this kind with other jurisdictions. New Ministry procedures now monitor more closely such exchanges of personal information and the Ministry continues to work towards an even more secure method of data transfer.
F08-01 Jan 22, 2008 Ministry Of Environment, Ministry Of Forests And Range The University of Victoria Environmental Law Clinic, on behalf of a group of eight environmental org... more
The University of Victoria Environmental Law Clinic, on behalf of a group of eight environmental organizations, brought a complaint against three ministries alleging that there was a system-wide pattern of acting to frustrate environmental groups seeking records under the Freedom of Information and Protection Act (“FIPPA”). The groups alleged that there were routine delays in responding to access requests, excessive censoring of records, excessive and unreasonable fees and frequent and unjustified denials of fee waivers. Any one of these allegations, if proven, would be a violation of the s. 6 FIPPA duty to assist applicants. A preliminary investigation determined that while the complaint against the Ministry of Forests was not substantiated, there was some basis for the allegation of systemic problems with requests made to the Ministry of Environment. The parties met and developed a mutually acceptable action plan to resolve the complainants concerns.
F07-01 Jun 20, 2007 Ministry Of Small Business & Revenue & Eds Advanced Solutions Inc. An employee of EDS, a Ministry service provider, was caught improperly browsing through a Ministry c... more
An employee of EDS, a Ministry service provider, was caught improperly browsing through a Ministry computer system for personal information of friends and acquaintances. This had gone undetected because of insufficient technical security measures. The inadequate security measures constituted a breach of s. 30 of FIPPA. Further, by taking more than nine months to notify affected individuals, the Ministry and EDS breached their s. 30 obligations. The Ministry and EDS have since taken significant steps to improve security and to develop employee awareness of, and compliance with, privacy law.
F06-02 Jun 7, 2006 Investigation Into Security Of Personal Information Held By Vancouver Coastal Health Authority’s Employee And Family Assistance Program The Employee and Family Assistance Program (“EFAP”) is a confidential employee-counselling service o... more
The Employee and Family Assistance Program (“EFAP”) is a confidential employee-counselling service operated as a component of the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (“VCHA”). It is staffed by VCHA employees and is responsible to VCHA. EFAP is a program of the VCHA and is not a separate entity. As a health authority established under the Health Authorities Act, VCHA is a “health care body” and therefore a “public body” covered by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (“FIPPA”). EFAP’s actions are therefore those of the VCHA for FIPPA purposes.
F06-01 Mar 31, 2006 Sale Of Provincial Government Computer Tapes Containing Personal Information Examples abound these days of privacy breaches involving the unauthorized disclosure or acquisition ... more
Examples abound these days of privacy breaches involving the unauthorized disclosure or acquisition of personal information because of compromised storage, handling or disposal of computer devices or electronic data media. This is so even though security safeguards are available and even though governments and businesses know that they must protect the security, confidentiality and integrity of the personal information they hold. This case illustrates the all too common failure of both public and private sector organizations to ensure that safeguards are identified and diligently implemented throughout organizations.
02-01 Sep 30, 2002 Investigation Of A Patient Survey By The Children’s And Women’s Health Centre Of British Columbia In 2000, the Children’s and Women’s Health Centre of British Columbia (“Health Centre”) carried out ... more
In 2000, the Children’s and Women’s Health Centre of British Columbia (“Health Centre”) carried out a survey of parents of pediatric patients and their families to obtain their views on services the Health Centre provides. The Health Centre is a public body under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (“Act”) and must, therefore, comply with the privacy provisions in Part 3 of the Act. The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (“OIPC”) has the authority under s. 42 to conduct investigations to ensure compliance with the Act. The OIPC decided to investigate the survey to ensure that it complied with Part 3. Our investigation looked at collection of personal information under s. 26 of the Act, use of personal information under s. 32 and disclosure of personal information under s. 33 of the Act.
01-01 Oct 5, 2001 Investigation Into BC Nurses’ Union Complaint About Telus-VGH LastWord Contract This investigation report addresses a complaint made by the B.C. Nurses’ Union regarding a package ... more
This investigation report addresses a complaint made by the B.C. Nurses’ Union regarding a package of contracts between Telus and Vancouver Hospital and Health Sciences Centre (“Vancouver Hospital”). The complaint focused on concerns about whether the contracts, or procedures under them, comply with Vancouver Hospital’s obligations regarding the privacy of patients’ personal information under Part 3 of FIPPA.
01-02 Sep 18, 2001 Investigation Into Canadian Youth, Sexual Health & HIV/Aids Study 2001 This document sets out the findings of fact, and resulting recommendations, of the Information and P... more
This document sets out the findings of fact, and resulting recommendations, of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia (“Commissioner”), regarding the Canadian Youth, Sexual Health & HIV/AIDS Study 2001 (“study”) and its compliance with the privacy provisions of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (“Act”).
00-01 Oct 24, 2000 Investigation Into Use of Alumni Personal Information By Universities This document deals with concerns raised about British Columbia universities' involvement in marketi... more
This document deals with concerns raised about British Columbia universities' involvement in marketing products or services to students or alumni. It addresses these issues and includes recommendations to the Information and Privacy Commissioner for universities and other public bodies to improve their privacy protection practices where personal information is collected, used or disclosed for marketing purposes.
P99-014 Mar 25, 1999 Report of an Investigation by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner into privacy complaints concerning the Provincial Learning Assessment Program of the Ministry of Education In mid-November 1998, a number of stories appeared in the print media regarding the Ministry of Educ... more
In mid-November 1998, a number of stories appeared in the print media regarding the Ministry of Education’s (the Ministry) July 1998 disclosure to the Ministry for Children and Families (MCF) of 46 of the 140,000 Provincial Learning Assessment Program tests that had been written in May 1998. The Provincial Learning Assessment Program tests are standardized tests that have been administered annually by the Ministry for over twenty years to assess the effectiveness of provincial curriculum and programs.
P99-013 Jan 5, 1999 An investigation into the disclosure of personal information concerning discipline matters by the British Columbia College of Teachers The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (the Office) investigated the British Columbi... more
The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (the Office) investigated the British Columbia College of Teachers’ disclosure of personal disciplinary information to verify that its policies and practices comply with section 33 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (the Act).
P98-012 Mar 31, 1998 Video surveillance by public bodies: a discussion This Investigation Report is the result of site visits to public bodies throughout the Province, inc... more
This Investigation Report is the result of site visits to public bodies throughout the Province, including the Vancouver Public Library, the headquarters of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, and several correctional institutions, police departments, and hospitals. All of these public bodies use video surveillance systems.
P98-011 Mar 31, 1998 An investigation concerning the disclosure of personal information through public property registries In September 1996, the City of Victoria announced it was becoming the first municipality in Canada t... more
In September 1996, the City of Victoria announced it was becoming the first municipality in Canada to provide property assessment information to the public through the Internet. The new service would allow the public to search the database by property owner's name, address and Roll number. The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner received a number of complaints from citizens concerned about their privacy. The Commissioner's report focuses on the privacy issues surrounding the publication of personal information in property databases. It examines the wider assessment system and most specifically, the BC Assessment Authority, which assumes the lead role in the property assessment system.
P97-010 Jun 16, 1997 Report on an investigation by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner into a complaint regarding a disclosure of Personal information by the Vancouver Police Department The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (the Office) received a complaint from a woma... more
The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (the Office) received a complaint from a woman that the Vancouver Police Department had violated her privacy by disclosing to her landlord, in response to his freedom of information request, records containing details of her 911 calls to the police for help.
P97-009 Mar 18, 1997 Complaints Against the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia Concerning the Customer Appeal Program Survey and the Customer Satisfaction Survey This Investigation Report is the result of the investigation of two privacy complaints against the I... more
This Investigation Report is the result of the investigation of two privacy complaints against the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC), one regarding the ICBC "Customer Appeal Program" survey, and one regarding the "Customer Satisfaction" survey, both conducted by Campbell Goodell Traynor of Vancouver. The two complainants objected to the disclosure of their personal information by ICBC to a contracted survey research company.
P97-008 Mar 3, 1997 Report on an investigation by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner into Privacy Complaints Concerning the Career and Personal Planning (CAPP) Curriculum of the Ministry of Education, Skills and Training The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner received a number of complaints from parents ... more
The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner received a number of complaints from parents about the "Career and Personal Planning" (CAPP) curriculum created by the Ministry of Education, Skills and Training. The parents' concerns focused on some of the curriculum's "Suggested Activities" which involve the students collecting and recording personal information about themselves, their families, and friends. The parents felt that these activities could cause an unreasonable invasion of their privacy and that of their children. The Office carried out an investigation of the potential privacy issues.
P96-007 Nov 6, 1996 Delay in Responding To General Requests By The (Former) Ministry Of Social Services On September 28, 1995, in response to a complaint filed by a reporter for the Vancouver Sun, the Off... more
On September 28, 1995, in response to a complaint filed by a reporter for the Vancouver Sun, the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (our Office) opened an investigation into alleged delays by the (former) Ministry of Social Services (the Ministry) in responding to requests for general information.
P96-006 Mar 31, 1996 An Investigation Into The Practices Of The Workers Compensation Board Of British Columbia With Respect To Disclosing Personal Information About Injured Workers To Employers The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner has received several complaints regarding the... more
The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner has received several complaints regarding the Workers Compensation Board of British Columbia (WCB)'s policy of disclosing a worker's claim file to an employer for the purposes of an appeal. Over the past two years, as a result of such complaints, the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner has conducted an investigation into WCB's practice of disclosing the contents of a claim file to an employer when requested for the purpose of an appeal.
P95-005 Mar 31, 1995 Cars, People, And Privacy: Access To Personal Information Through The Motor Vehicle Data Base The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner anticipates that the publication of this repo... more
The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner anticipates that the publication of this report will lead to greater public awareness about the existence and uses of the Motor Vehicle Database. There are many user groups of the database and while most uses are legally authorized and necessary for the functioning of the motor vehicle registration and insurance system, a very real possibility exists for misuse of the personal information in the system.
P95-004 Mar 22, 1995 A complaint by KF Media Inc. against the Vancouver Police Department concerning the television series "To Serve And Protect" In December 1994 the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner received a complaint from KF... more
In December 1994 the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner received a complaint from KF Media Inc. of Vancouver, B.C. (the complainant) about a decision by the Vancouver Police Department to block out the faces of persons interviewed by police on the television program "To Serve and Protect."
P94-003 May 5, 1994 Release Of Personal Information By The Forensic Psychiatric Services Commission Of The Ministry Of Health And The Ministry Responsible For Seniors On 29 March 1994, a complainant faxed a letter to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissi... more
On 29 March 1994, a complainant faxed a letter to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner to complain that he had received information about his victim when he received his patient files from the Adult Forensic Psychiatric Out-Patient Services (the clinic) of the Forensic Psychiatric Services Commission (the Commission) of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry Responsible for Seniors (the Ministry). He requested an investigation by the Information and Privacy Commissioner to determine if this release of third party information was in violation of FIPPA.
P94-002 Apr 29, 1994 Insurance Corporation Of British Columbia On April 8, 1994, the producer of the British Columbia Television (BCTV) "Weekend NewsHour" called t... more
On April 8, 1994, the producer of the British Columbia Television (BCTV) "Weekend NewsHour" called the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia's (ICBC) Public Information section claiming to have received a number of ICBC claims files from an unidentified source. The source, described as a worker in the film industry, indicated that the files were being used as props for office scenes in a movie.
P94-001 Apr 27, 1994 Investigation Into A Complaint That The Public Service Employee Relations Commission Released Personal Information To Mr. Jack Weisgerber, MLA (s. 42 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act) The complainant, Jack Weisgerber, MLA, alleged that, in response to a routine request for records, t... more
The complainant, Jack Weisgerber, MLA, alleged that, in response to a routine request for records, the Ministry of Finance and Corporate Relations improperly disclosed personal information.