The FOIP Act Review and Records Management in Alberta
Issue 4: Concept of "Custody" vs. "Control"
Further issues dealing with electronic records management were raised in a submission by Brad Hamdon (2010) on behalf of the Alberta Universities Association. This submission suggests that some of the problems with the FOIP Act are a result of the language of the act itself, which does not necessarily reflect the modern reality of electronic documents. For instance, the concept of “custody” in relation to control could be considered to be antiquated in the current records management environment. Because the term custody implies the holding of a physical copy of the information, this term may not adequately apply to intangible electronic records. Hamdon (2010) suggests that the term custody be removed from the act, and that control be redefined in the following manner:
Control should be defined so that a public body exercises control over records that are generated or maintained in the conduct of the programs, services or operations of the public body, and in achieving the public body’s mandate and functions (Hamdon, 2010).
This new definition would effectively eliminate any distinction between records which are physically present (and therefore in the custody of a public body) versus those for which the public body is responsible. While this may seem to be a minor change or distinction, it is nonetheless an important consideration as it is crucial that electronic records be treated with the same policies as physical records in all areas of records management.
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.