Editorial: Questions linger in Saanich spyware case

Revelations of former IT staffer will likely prove an inconvenience for District of Saanich officials

The revelations of Jon Woodland will likely prove an inconvenience for District of Saanich officials. Woodland, a 16-year veteran at the District and current Information Technology manager at the Township of Esquimalt, is providing some valuable insight into the happenings behind the scenes in relation to the Spector 360 fiasco.

Woodland says he helped co-ordinate a meeting between Mayor Richard Atwell and a current IT staffer at the District in December to notify Atwell of the spyware’s installation.

Woodland told the News he finds being in the public eye uncomfortable, but he’s more concerned about his friends being penalized if they come forward with relevant information in the public interest.

Municipal councillors say there’s no conspiracy here, that the “mistake” of installing a piece of software that contravened privacy law needs only a structural fix. The IT and legislative departments simply failed to communicate with one another, they say.

It sounds reassuring, but it doesn’t yet answer the odd rush to install the software. B.C. Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham’s office was told by District staff that they were expedient with the installation because Atwell is tech-savvy and the new mayor may have otherwise quickly identified security deficiencies. But the failure to explicitly notify Atwell about the spyware seems to throw a wrench into that explanation. If staff were looking to impress Atwell, why wasn’t the Spector 360 program trumpeted as an advancement in digital security, at least internally?

Key questions are not yet answered in this investigation. Wait to see if council makes any further demands for information on April 13 or if they consider the issue fully resolved.