The B.C. privacy commissioner’s Report confirmed serious violations of provincial privacy laws by senior officials at Saanich Municipal Hall. This report should be of great concern to anyone who believes in personal privacy and in honest, open and accountable Government. This is no longer a local issue – it has quite rightly attracted considerable national media attention.
The District said that the Spector software had been recommended by an outside consultant – it had not. The District also said that the Spector 360 software would solve the security problem outlined in the consultant’s report – it does not. Finally, the District said that employees’ privacy is not protected at work. It is. Of equal concern, these three items would never have been exposed had the privacy commissioner not taken it upon herself to investigate this matter.
Furthermore, the privacy commissioner stated that one of her most disappointing findings was the near-complete lack of awareness and understanding by senior Saanich officials of the privacy provisions of B.C.’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
How can this be? A thorough understanding of privacy laws is an essential and important part of the job descriptions of several senior Saanich officials. So some senior Saanich officials have either mislead the privacy commissioner or they mislead Saanich about their job qualifications when they were interviewed for their current roles. It’s one or the other.
The breadth and seriousness of these “mistruths” must surely be grounds for instant dismissal with cause. It certainly would be at the organizations in which I have worked. Yet, we have some Saanich councilors who are on record saying that this is nothing more than a “mistake” by senior officials and that no one should lose their job. The confidence in and credibility of senior Saanich staff and council has been seriously damaged by the findings of the privacy commissioner. In order to begin to restore confidence in the leadership of Saanich, the broom must sweep away those who are found to have been willfully responsible for this deplorable situation. Sweeping this matter under the carpet will not be an acceptable option.
Senior Saanich officials and council can be certain that all eyes are watching for their response.