The Complainant's profession and rank (employment
References to an on-the-job incident the Complainant was
involved in (employment history and opinions); and,
A professional conduct decision made under the Police
Act (employment history).
The adjudicator found that: The Public Body is an
independent quasi-judicial body established under the Police Act.
Under that statute, its primary activities (relative to this case)
1. To hear appeals, in public, brought forward by citizens
and by police officers (which is consistent with the open court
principle) [section 20(1)(l)];
2. To dispose of the matter by writing the decision in those
appeals [section 20(2.1)]; and,
3. To advise the parties and the Minister of the decision
Those are the purposes for which the personal information
was collected or compiled so the Public Body would also be
authorized under subsection 40(1)(c) of the FOIP Act to disclose
information for those same purposes.
The adjudicator found that disclosure was authorized and then
had to address the question of whether the disclosure was limited
as required by s. 40 (4).
The conclusion – unless the privacy-related conduct of
the tribunal is clearly unreasonable, the questioning of the amount
or method of disclosure must be handled cautiously and with
... I think it is up to the Public Body to determine the
merit of making decisions fully publicly searchable or limiting the
searchability, and therefore disclosure, in some fashion. It is
also up to the Public Body to determine the merit of differentiated
treatment based on each case and developing the proper criteria to
determine that treatment.
There are two competing interests that arise when considering
whether to publish personal information in a decision of an
Controlled privacy is a critically important element of
privacy schemes (and a desired one for the Complainant). That said,
I do think it's important to point out one possible and very
significant outcome that could arise if differentiated treatment
were employed: if nothing were located using a search engine that
scanned the whole internet, individuals searching on the web might
not go any further, and could assume there are no matches, because
the search parameters led to no results being found.
The Public Body ~ since it deals with information of law
enforcement officials ~ must consider whether is it transparent
enough, with the ease-of-search so relied upon now, to limit the
locating of a decision to only its site. It must also recognize
that if the information is not easily accessible it can be seen to
Bottom line? Differentiated disclosure ie. use of the web robot
exclusion protocol may be justified. On the other hand, the need to
satisfy the openness-through access objective may dictate that
differentiated disclosure is not warranted. The decision needs to
be based on both the mandate and objectives of the agency or
tribunal and a weighing of these competing interests.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).