B.C. government cleared of violating privacy laws with ethnic outreach plan

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      An investigation by B.C.’s privacy watchdog has found no evidence the Liberal government shared information in violation of provincial laws as part of its ethnic outreach plan.

      Information and privacy commissioner Elizabeth Denham today (August 1) released a report based on a review of the government’s controversial strategy to woo ethnic voters.

      Denham looked into whether officials from the Liberal-led government and the B.C. Liberal Party inappropriately shared information as part of the outreach plan.

      “While the information collected by government is personal information as defined by provincial privacy legislation, the investigation did not find evidence that government improperly disclosed that information as part of the Outreach Plan,” the report reads.

      “Further, the investigation did not find evidence that the BC Liberal Party either improperly collected or disclosed personal information as part of the Outreach Plan initiative.”

      However, Denham’s report does raise concerns about the use of personal emails by government officials.

      “The use of personal email by high-ranking government officials in distributing the Outreach Plan and the stated goal of sharing information between government and party, without explicit acknowledgement of the limitations imposed by provincial privacy legislation, is evidence of foundational privacy and access problems that government needs to address,” the report reads.

      Denham’s report also contains a series of recommendations to the province around the use of personal email accounts by public officials and protecting government information.

      The outreach plan, leaked to the media early this year, was also the focus of an internal government investigation that concluded there were code-of-conduct breaches.