TORONTO, June 15 /CNW/ - Ontario's Information and Privacy Commissioner,
Dr. Ann Cavoukian, outlined today the initial steps she is taking as part of
her investigation into whether the privacy rights of prospective jurors were
breached when police conducted background checks - through accessing
confidential databases - on behalf of certain Crown Attorneys.
The Commissioner is sending a formal survey to all 54 Crown
jurisdictions, along with a covering letter, co-signed by Attorney General
Christopher Bentley, to determine the nature and extent of this practice. Each
Crown office is being asked an extensive range of questions by the
Commissioner - covering the period dating back three years to the memorandum
sent to all Crown Attorneys on March 31, 2006 by the Attorney General's
office. That memorandum specifically directed Crown Attorneys not to ask
police to undertake an investigation into lists of prospective jurors, other
than for criminal record checks.
The survey sent out by the Commissioner will determine the extent to
which Crown Attorneys have been the recipients of background information about
potential jurors since the March 2006 memorandum. It will also determine the
source of this information and which databases may have been accessed. The
completed surveys will be sent directly to the Commissioner.
"I want to personally thank the Attorney General for his extensive
co-operation, including his open support for the survey of Crown Attorneys'
offices," said Commissioner Cavoukian.
In addition, the Commissioner is immediately sending a team - which will
start in Windsor - to each of the three locales (Windsor, Barrie and Thunder
Bay) where it has already been confirmed (in two cases, by judges declaring
mistrials) that the police selectively probed the background of potential
jurors. Her team will be interviewing the police who provided the information
to the local Crown Attorney's office. In addition, they will also be meeting
with the Crown Attorney's office and court staff. Consistent with her previous
experience, the Commissioner anticipates receiving the full co-operation of
The Commissioner's powers extend to her authority to order government
organizations to cease the collection of personal information and to destroy
existing records that have been collected. The Commissioner used such
authority in 2007 when she ordered the City of Ottawa and Ottawa Police to
cease collecting extensive personal information from people selling used goods
to second-hand stores; she also ordered the destruction of the personal
information that had already been collected. The Commissioner's authority to
conduct privacy investigations was confirmed by the Ontario Divisional Court
The results of the Commissioner's survey will be made publicly available.
The Information and Privacy Commissioner is appointed by and reports to
the Ontario Legislative Assembly, and is independent of the government of the
day. The Commissioner's mandate includes overseeing the access and privacy
provisions of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the
Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, as well as the
Personal Health Information Protection Act, which applies to both public and
private sector health information custodians, in addition to educating the
public about access and privacy issues.
For further information:
For further information: Media Contact: Bob Spence, Communications
Co-ordinator, Direct line: (416) 326-3939, Cell phone: (416) 873-9746, Toll
free: 1-800-387-0073, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.ipc.on.ca