LETTERS: Be vigilant to protect privacy


Re: Price to pay for reducing costs, Aug. 3 letters.


Re: Price to pay for reducing costs, Aug. 3 letters.

The City of Surrey’s collection and use of personal information is governed by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).

The city has several obligations under the act. A public body must ensure that an individual from whom it collects personal information is told:

• the purpose for collecting it,

• the legal authority for collecting it

• the title, business address and business telephone number of an officer or employee who can answer the individual’s questions about the collection.

According to letter-writer Herb Spencer, this did not happen, which could be a violation in of itself, depending on the circumstances.

Spencer needs to contact the city first before going to the privacy commissioner, specifically the business operations manager. If he gets the same answer that the general manager provided, then he needs to contact the privacy commissioner’s office.

I am not an expert, but the purposes provided by the general manager for collecting and using personal information does not add up. Typically, collection, use and disclosure of information has to be for purposes that a reasonable person would consider appropriate.

So, is this the case, does the city need your date of birth, your gender and “multiple phone numbers” to run its Pass Card program?

BTW, through my business, I recently had the opportunity to work extensively with the Office of the Privacy and Information Commissioner for BC. I have found them to be quite responsive and professional. A rare find for a government agency.

So, Spencer can take heart that there is a leash, for now, on the government when it comes to the public’s right to privacy; but, I agree people need to be vigilante, and aware as to their rights.

Darwin Nickel, White Rock



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