Report: B.C. Liberals failing to protect privacy, except their own

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VANCOUVER – A report released today shows that the B.C. Liberals are working hard to frustrate the public’s access to information about government activities, but failing to protect their privacy, say the New Democrats.

“The annual report from the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner shows that this government continues to make the same mistakes,” said New Democrat citizens’ services critic George Heyman.

“They continue to fail to ensure the privacy of British Columbians is protected. Meanwhile, they continue to delay and deny legitimate freedom of information requests to avoid public scrutiny.”

The report found that privacy breaches increased again this year, and have risen by 56 per cent in the past five years. At the same time, time extension delay requests by public bodies, which stall the freedom of information process, have gone up 123 per cent in the last two years, while complaints about access to information have gone up by 53 per cent in the last year alone.

“With both on the rise, the B.C. Liberals need to take responsibility for privacy breaches and accountability complaints,” said Heyman.

“That means more oversight of contractors to protect privacy in this province. It also means that the government needs to work much harder to give British Columbians the transparency they deserve from their government.”

Heyman says the government needs to start with new policies to pro-actively disclose matters that are in the public interest, and respond to legitimate freedom of information requests in a timely manner. They should also show a commitment to open government by ensuring decisions are documented, Heyman added.

“Despite increasing access complaints and increasing privacy breaches, the B.C. Liberals are still taking their own privacy far more seriously than the public’s. British Columbians deserve better.”