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Street check and checkmate? FOIPOP request hits wall

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Halifax Regional Police (HRP) is refusing to release any information on the security and retention policies affecting its carding database.

In late March the Nova Scotia Advocate submitted a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIPOP) request for “any reports, analyses, risk assessments, privacy impact statements, etc., pertaining to the security of the street check data retained by the Halifax Regional Police.”

But according to HRP that is none of the public’s business.

“The responsible officer may refuse to disclose information to an applicant if the disclosure could reasonably be expected to harm the security of any property or system,”  writes William Moore, deputy chief of police.

It is difficult to grasp how security would be affected if such information were released.

Typically, the type of documents we requested deal with are things such as the occurrence of password sharing among officers, the ability for non-authorized but curious staff to access the database, the ability to link a database search with a specific officer, and so on. All pretty much routine and harmless information in the records management context.

We also requested “any summarized information pertaining to unauthorized access to the street check database over the last year by HRP staff.”

This request too was denied. We may never know if a police officer decided to query the data for a reason not related to his job.

“(HRP and RCMP staff) access would be limited to their job function. Any breach would be investigated under the Police Act or RCMP, this would not be public information,” writes Moore.

Mind you, we requested summarized information.  No names, no specifics, just how many breaches occurred.

The Nova Scotia Advocate has requested a review of the HRP decision by the provincial FOIPOP review officer.

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