The FOIP Act Review and Records Management in Alberta


Introduction

Role of the FOIP Act

Historical Controversies

A Selection of Submissions made to the Standing Committee on Health

Issue 1: Municipal Government Records

Issue 2: Treatment of Electronic Records

Issue 3: Records and Social Networking Websites

Issue 4: Concept of "Custody" vs. "Control"

Issue 5: Harmonization with Other Privacy Legislation

Review by the Standing Committee on Health

Conclusion

References

Reflection


Historical Controversies

The FOIP Act is clearly a very important, detailed and complex piece of legislation. Despite, or perhaps because of this, the act has frequently been a source of misunderstanding and debate. Questions and concerns about the FOIP Act have existed since its creation, and despite multiple reviews and amendments, the act remains highly contentious and a source of questions regarding the delicate balance between access and privacy. The questions and controversies surrounding the act have certainly impacted the world of records management. An example of one early concern regarding FOIP was authored by John C. Anderson. In a 1995 article in Records Management Quarterly, Anderson (1995) explained the contents of the new act and suggested that municipal governments would need to overhaul their records retention and management policies in order to be properly compliant with FOIP. However, early concerns with FOIP were not restricted to records management affairs. A search of letters to the editor and newspaper articles written within a year of the act coming into force reveal a diverse set of individuals, including politicians and private citizens, who had concerns regarding the contents of the bill. Some of the issues raised included complaints about the dollar amount of fees (Dickson, 1995; Platt, 1995), concerns about putting privacy before public safety (Newswire, 1996), questions about the role of the Commissioner (Cunningham, 1995) and problems with the overwhelming number of requests to some government departments (Hryciuk, 1995). To attempt to address some of these concerns, amendments were made to the FOIP Act. For example, in regards to the widely discussed issues surrounding fees, the amendments made in 2003 attempted to clarify the process for requesting a fee waiver (Government of Alberta, 2003). The FOIP Act was also amended in 2006. Despite these two reviews and multiple amendments, there are still a great number of concerns and issues arising from the FOIP Act which have yet to be sufficiently addressed.

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This assignment was originally created in the Fall Term 2010 for LIS 594 - Records Management.
This website was created by Leah Townsend, as a requirement for graduation from the Masters of Library and Information Studies program at the University of Alberta.