Did you know this week was Right to Know Week? You had a right to know that! It’s an opportunity to highlight freedom of information and open government and how they lead to a more democratic society. I know it can sometimes feel like a pain, but it’s important stuff.
A good number of privacy pros wear both privacy and access hats and, in Canada, regulators at the provincial level oversee the application of both laws. That also means these lucky folks have two big days to celebrate the importance of their work: International Right to Know Day on Sept. 28 and Data Privacy Day on Jan. 28.
Not that I want to draw attention away from FOI, but I also think privacy pros can use the occasion to highlight the transparency-related aspects of privacy through better notices, for example.
What stood out for me this week was that the Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner’s office launched something called a Transparency Challenge, urging provincial and municipal institutions in Ontario to share their creative and innovative ways of increasing transparency to the benefit of citizens.
Sounds like they’re going to gather the best examples and include them in a showcase to encourage and inspire others to do better and remind citizens of the importance of the right of access.
I’m curious to see what kinds of examples they receive and share. I also like the idea of encouraging compliance in a positive — albeit a bit of a competitive — way. I mean, if you work for one of these institutions, wouldn’t you like to see your solutions showcased by a regulator?
By the way, the Ontario IPC isn’t the only group pushing for better transparency. It seems the Government of Canada and the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics are both studying the federal access to information system for a potential overhaul. Maybe the IPC’s Transparency Challenge will give them some good ideas they can apply at the federal level — they sure need them! If you work in this area, you should think about whether you have a good initiative to submit. If you don’t, maybe it's time to think about how to improve and modernize your transparency regime.
Before I close off, I want to highlight that today is the day in Canada where we are meant to stop and examine the lasting impact of Indigenous policy we’ve had here. I think transparency is an important aspect to this. For example, we shouldn’t have to go asking and pushing for information about the awful conditions we put Indigenous youth through. This and so much more should be a matter of public knowledge so that we can all better understand and address issues, and make sure they never happen again.
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