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Information and Privacy Commissioner releases Review Report 18-05

The use of personal email accounts to conduct government business has the potential to subvert the right of access under Nova Scotia's right to information laws.  When public bodies receive an access to information request they must make every reasonable effort to assist applicants openly, accurately and completely.  In this case, an applicant requested copies of all emails in relation to the former Minister of Health and Wellness' mandate that were sent or received using the Minister's personal email accounts for a specified time period.  The Commissioner determines that the Department failed to satisfy its duty to assist in a number of significant ways.  The Department failed to make any effort, let alone every reasonable effort, to search for responsive records.  It failed to communicate to the applicant any concerns it had with the clarity of the request and its response letters were neither open, accurate nor complete.  The Commissioner recommends that the Department undertake six steps to ensure that it conducts an adequate search for records so that the use of personal email accounts for departmental purposes does not result in making government records inaccessible to the public.  Read more...


Canada's Access to Information and Privacy Guardians Call for Privacy Regulation and Oversight of Political Parties

Regina, SK, September 17, 2018​ - In a joint resolution, Canada's Information and Privacy Ombudspersons and Commissioners have called on governments to pass legislation requiring political parties to comply with globally recognized privacy principles, to provide Canadians with access to the personal information they hold about them, and to provide for independent oversight to verify and enforce privacy compliance.                   Read more... / Communiqué

Joint Resolution: Securing Trust and Privacy in Canada's Electoral Process / Assurer la confiance et la confidentialité dans le processus électoral du Canada


Responses to Investigation Reports IR18-01 and IR18-02

The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia has received responses to the recommendations made in investigation reports IR18-01 and IR18-02 from the Department of Health and Wellness and Sobeys National Pharmacy Group.  A summary of those responses and copies of the letters received are provided below.

OIPC Summary of Responses to IR18-01 and IR18-02 Recommendations

Letter from Department of Health and Wellness

Letter from Sobeys National Pharmacy Group


Information and Privacy Commissioner releases Review Report 18-04

The Department of Finance and Treasury Board claimed that records responsive to two related access to information requests fell outside the scope of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPOP) by virtue of an exemption related to the Pension Benefits Act.  The Commissioner determines that the interpretation of the exemption advanced by the Department viotates the statutory interpretation norms of reasonableness and plausibility.  She concludes that the responsive records do not fall under the proposed exemption and recommends that the Department process the two related access to information requests as required by FOIPOPRead more...


Information and Privacy Commissioner releases Review Report 18-03

The first rule of processing access to information requests is that the records requested must be disclosed in full unless a specific and limited exemption applies.  Such exemptions should only be applied to the specific information that satisfies the legal test set out in Nova Scotia's right to information law.  To determine what must be severed, every single page and every single line on each page must be read and evaluated.  In this case, it appears that a decision was reached to withhold whole classes of records contrary to this fundamental rule.  The applicant requested copies of records from the Department of Justice related to the death in custody of a named individual.  Aside from a few pages of partially released material, the Department refused to disclose the information, citing harm to law enforcement (s. 15 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act).  The Commissioner finds that the Department failed to discharge its burden of proving that the law enforcement exemption applies to the records.  Regarding the Department's assertion that harm would result from disclosure, no evidence was provided to connect the records at issue to the harm alleged.  As a result, the Commissioner recommends that the Department conduct a line by line review of the withheld records to identify the small portions to which the personal information exemption applies and release the remaining information in full.  Read more...


NEWS RELEASE & BACKGROUNDER

For immediate release

August 1, 2018

Commissioner's investigation identifies critical vulnerabilities in the e-health system

HALIFAX - In two privacy breach investigation reports issued today, Catherine Tully, Nova Scotia's Information and Privacy Commissioner, determines that monitoring of electronic personal health information databases is a critical vulnerability in the province.  As a result, intrusion into the private lives of patients is a real and present danger.  Read more...

Read Investigation Report IR18-01

Read Investigation Report IR18-02


The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia has developed Best Practice Do's and Don'ts to help you create and keep your passwords secure.

Best Password Practices 

Meilleures pratiques pour les mots de passe


What We Do

The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner is an impartial oversight body - like the Ombudsman or the Auditor General.  Under Nova Scotia's privacy laws, the Privacy Commissioner is responsible for investigating privacy complaints, hearing appeals of government decisions relating to access to information requests and providing public education sessions.

What We Do Not Do

The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner does not process access to information requests for government.  We are not responsible for the FOIPOP database that is the subject of the recent privacy breach reports.  That database is held by a government department - the Department of Internal Services.  We do not have authority to lay criminal charges and we are not responsible for making decisions about the prosecution of criminal offences.  We have publicly announced our investigation of government in relation to this privacy breach incident.


New/Updated Publications Now Available

Best Password Practices / Meilleures pratiques pour le mots de passe

Big Data Guidelines for Nova Scotia

A Citizen's Guide to Big Data and Your Privacy Rights in Nova Scotia

A Citizen's Guide to Access and Privacy Rights in Nova Scotia / Guide du citoyen sur les droits à l'accès à l'information et à la protection de la vie privée en Nouvelle-Écosse

Guidance for the Use of Criminal Record Checks by Health Profession Regulating Bodies

PHIA - Disclosures Without Express Consent

Video Surveillance Guidelines

Video Surveillance Policy Template

Access & Privacy - A Councillor's Guide