Thursday, February 12, 2009

Toronto Police Service ordered to release data on police stops

In Toronto Police Services Board v. ( Ontario) Information and Privacy Commissioner, 2009 ONCA 20, the Ontario Court of Appeal restored a decision of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario granting Toronto Star reporter James Rankin access to Toronto Police Service’s data stored on the Criminal Information Processing System (CPIS) and the Master Name Index (MANIX). Rankin wanted the information to follow up on his 2002 series on racial profiling and had applied for access by relying on s. 2(1) of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. M. 56 (“the Act”). As noted in the judgment "his purpose in seeking the information is to test the Board's claim, in response to an earlier series of articles he wrote, that the Police do not engage in racial profiling."

The Toronto Police argued that they did not need to release the information because it was not a “record” within the meaning of the Act, and that even if it could be deemed a record, that it would be too costly to produce as it would require their staff to create an algorithm in order to free the database of personal identifiers.

The Court rejected these arguments, applying a broad interpretation of s. 2(1) of the Act, in arguing that this “approach – one of presumptive access – reflects the fact that, because municipal institutions function to serve the public, they ought in general to be open to public scrutiny.”

Posted by Laroux Peoples

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