BC Liberals did not violate privacy laws in ethnic scandal: report

B.C.’s information and privacy watchdog says a provincial Liberal government plan to woo the ethnic vote did not violate any privacy laws.

In a report Thursday, privacy commissioner Elizabeth Denham concludes that although information collected by government was personal, there was no evidence that the Liberals improperly disclosed it as part of the government’s ethnic outreach plan.

She also said there was no evidence that the party collected or disclosed personal information as part of that plan.

Although there was no breach of privacy laws, Debham found “significant issues with the handling of personal information that need to be addressed.”

“My investigation indicates that government and the BC Liberal Party are not providing sufficient training to individuals within these roles and are therefore creating a substantial risk of misuse of personal information,” she said.

The report makes several recommendations, including that government provide training for its employees regarding the use of personal email accounts for government business and ensure that copies of all records created by its employees that relate to government business are stored.

Debham also suggests that government provide employees and volunteers with enough resources to ensure that they do not have a reason to use personal email accounts and provide mandatory privacy training sessions.

Denham launched a privacy investigation into the ethnic outreach scandal that embroiled the government before the election in March, after an internal report raised questions about whether personal email accounts were being used in an attempt to evade access to information laws.

The internal investigation into the Liberal’s ethnic outreach plans was conducted by John Dyble, Clark’s deputy minister last March. He found serious misconduct by public officials, the misuse of government funds and the deliberate use of private emails in a bid to win ethnic votes.