No media representation on commissioner's panel

Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham's new expert external advisory board doesn't include anyone representing the interests of the media or political parties. Those two groups are among the province's most high-profile freedom of information request filers - making up 14.9 percent of such submissions in fiscal 2009/10. In a news release, Ms. Denham said the panel is a "tangible demonstration of the value I place on increasing the capacity of my office through collaboration with stakeholders." But a spokesperson for her office told Public Eye the panel isn't meant to be a "stakeholder group, per se."

Instead, its members constitute an "expert panel who sort of had policy or public education kinds of issues around FOI and privacy. If you sort of look at the group it's people who have often worked with the regulators or have done research or things of that nature."

"These are people who hopefully also connect with stakeholders," the spokesperson continued. But, that being said, "I think the commissioner would more likely to go to the political parties and the media and to the advocacy groups and special interests on specific issues."

The panel's members are described in the aforementioned news release as being "advocates, academics, business leaders and former commissioners." The following is a complete copy.

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NEWS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia

Jan. 24, 2011

PRIVACY COMMISSIONER CREATES EXPERT ACCESS AND PRIVACY ADVISORY BOARD

VICTORIA - Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham has created the first Expert External Advisory Board for the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner. The advisory board will provide support to the commissioner in her role under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Personal Information Protection Act.

"The creation of this board is a tangible demonstration of the value I place on increasing the capacity of my office through collaboration with stakeholders," the commissioner said. "Most of the staff are fully utilized resolving important access disputes and privacy complaints. I want to enhance the office's other vital responsibilities such as public education, policy work, research and providing expert guidance to public and private sector agencies on transparency and the protection of privacy."

The advisory board represents a variety of stakeholders: advocates, academics, business leaders and former commissioners. These individuals will assist Denham by identifying emerging technical and managerial issues affecting access and privacy, bringing forward information concerning the administration of both acts and identifying subject matters requiring further outreach or research.

"The support of this group will allow us to focus attention on critically important policy and public education issues," the commissioner said.

The members of the board are:

Dr. Colin Bennett, department of political science, University of Victoria
Heather Black, former assistant privacy commissioner for Canada
Drew McArthur, McArthur Group (former vice president, corporate affairs and compliance, Telus Communications)
Dr. David Flaherty, former B.C. information and privacy commissioner
Dr. Ben Goold, faculty of law, University of British Columbia
Dirk Ryneveld, QC, former B.C. police complaints commissioner

For more information about the Expert External Advisory Board, please visit: www.oipc.bc.ca

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1 Comment

Unless I've missed something it appears that not one single credible advocacy group is listed. I'm sure those persons that have been "chosen" are highly qualified and capable of providing advice but the absence of the various primary user groups will make that advice somewhat irrelevant.

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