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Committee calls for routine release of government records, again

The British Columbia legislative committee that reviewed the province's freedom of information and privacy protection law has released a report recommending 35 changes.

Eleven of those recommendations repeat ones suggested, but not adopted, six years ago when the legislation was last reviewed.

“To improve access, the Special Committee is reiterating the call for public bodies to adopt the practice of routine proactive disclosure of electronic records, made by the two previous statutory review committees,” the report said.

Adopting those recommendations to automatically release many records would help “promote a culture of openness” and reduce the need for people to make formal requests for information, it said. “This would also reduce the cost to the public purse.”

The committee also suggested creating a new position for a government chief privacy officer and requiring privacy impact assessments to be made at several phases during the development of any electronic record project, including at the start.

During the committee hearings, then acting information and privacy commissioner Paul Fraser criticized the government for working on a major database project, the integrated case management system, for two years without conducting the legally required privacy impact assessment.

Out of the 28 recommendations a similar committee chaired by Blair Lekstrom made in 2004, half had been adopted by Feb. 2009.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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