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FOI Update: A Review of Some "Interesting" FOI Decisions

Access to information legislation, such as the BC Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), serves an important public interest—accountability of government to the citizenry. But this purpose is tempered by the need to protect privacy and to allow governments to function and do business in areas where confidentially must be respected. In receiving and responding to access to information requests, much of the focus for local governments is on the provisions in Part 2, Division 2 of FIPPA, which set out exceptions to disclosure where disclosure would be harmful to various affected parties.

The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) for British Columbia has issued many interesting decisions this year, some having major implications for local governments in processing access to information requests under FIPPA. This paper will discuss recent OIPC cases that provide guidance on how and when local governments should apply particular sections of FIPPA, how specific terms in the legislation are interpreted, and how to treat “non-responsive” information in responsive records. Overall, this paper hopes to further local governments’ understanding of their responsibilities under various provisions of FIPPA.

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