In Yukon, you have the right to ask about, read or get copies of the information the government has on file about you and information about government’s activities and decisions (with limited exceptions). The fact the government uses personal information means it also has a responsibility to only collect the information that is required, and protect that information from improper use and disclosure.
These rights and responsibilities are enshrined in law within the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act — usually referred to as ATIPP, or the ATIPP Act. The act establishes an oversight Commissioner and a government office to ensure access to information and protection of citizen’s information is properly managed.
Our Changing World
Yukoners have had these rights for over 20 years now, as the act was passed in 1995. As sound as it is, however, the current act is based on a model that was developed when the world operated primarily on paper.
Just think of all the ways our world has changed in the intervening 20 or more years:
- We don’t solely do our banking by standing in a teller lineup as we did back then.
- Our current methods of correspondence involve much more than letters and stamps.
- In the 90’s, the only thing your phone did was allow you to call or be called by someone.
- Computers were only just starting to show up in homes, and they used floppy discs.
- The Internet and world-wide-web (remember the information superhighway?) were in their early days.
In short, how we interact with businesses, government and each other is very different today. How can we expect the current ATIPP Act to efficiently operate in this newly convenient and largely digital environment?
Review of the Act
The comprehensive review of the ATIPP Act is an exciting opportunity. While we think the basic principles of the act are sound, our technological evolution has resulted in significant changes to the type and volume of information government now has, as well as to the ways that information is stored and protected.
It is essential that the ATIPP Act reflect the realities of our changing world and position it to be responsive to ongoing change so it is up-to-date and relevant for all Yukoners. This is important work and requires input from all Yukoners.
What is ATIPP?
Generally speaking, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (ATIPP Act) is legislation that confirms the fundamental right for Yukoners to access government held information, with certain limited exceptions. The ATIPP Act also ensures that personal information, as held by various Yukon government departments and corporations, is protected. The act guarantees:
- access to records in the custody or control of Yukon government departments and designated public bodies with certain exceptions;
- the right to request correction of personal information;
- protection of personal information in the custody or under the control of public bodies;
- protection against unauthorized collection, use, disclosure, or disposition of personal information; and
- access to an independent review of decisions made by public bodies about access and privacy.
Just so we’re clear about our terminology, here are some key terms to be familiar with:
Access – The ability to request information about oneself held by government or to obtain unpublished government information, with limited exceptions. The exceptions to what can be accessed include personal information about other people, information that could cause a person, business or a public body to make or lose money, information that could be a threat to public safety, and Cabinet records (for up to 15 years).
Privacy – The protection of one’s personal information, such that others do not have the authority to use or view it without the person’s knowledge/consent.
Personal information – Recorded information about an identifiable individual. Personal information is anything that would allow someone else to be able to identify that the information referred to a specific individual. This includes things like names, contact information, age and employment history, but also personal opinions and others’ opinions about the individual.
Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) – The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner functions as an oversight mechanism. This office gives Yukoners access to an independent body that can review government decisions regarding access to information requests and the use of Yukoners’ personal information. The IPC informs the public about the ATIPP Act, receives comments and complaints from the public regarding the administration of the act and conducts investigations, comments on the implications to privacy of government proposals, and makes recommendations to public bodies (but not binding orders).
ATIPP office – The ATIPP office serves as a central resource within Yukon government for answering questions, and providing information and assistance both to members of the public making requests, and departments responding to requests.