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N.S. privacy commissioner office still dealing with 4-year backlog: report

Nova Scotia's information commissioner Tricia Ralph is pictured. (Source: Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia) Nova Scotia's information commissioner Tricia Ralph is pictured. (Source: Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia)
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Despite requests for additional resources, the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) of Nova Scotia is still dealing with a four-year backlog on cases.

Privacy commissioner Tricia Ralph’s annual report for 2023-2024, released on Thursday, says the Nova Scotia government has not given the office the resources necessary to tackle its ever-growing workload.

The office is responsible for reviewing access to information requests made by public bodies, municipalities, and health custodians. It also looks at privacy complaints.

“It is disappointing that I am making the same plea for more resources during the fourth year of my term,” said Ralph in the report. “This year, I am calling on the Nova Scotia Government to work with my office and come up with creative ways to reduce our backlog in light of its decision to deny our resourcing requests.”

Ralph’s report notes OIPC received 148 review requests last year and 247 this year. It also received 18 privacy complaints last year and 139 this year.

Last year, Ralph’s report claimed the province’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act has not been substantively updated since it was created in 1993.

“We need legislative change because our laws are not modern enough to adequately protect the access and privacy rights of Nova Scotians,” Ralph said in the new report. “We are living in a time of quickly advancing technological change. We are seeing fast progress in the functionality and use of tools such as generative artificial intelligence.

“Datadriven technologies have great potential to benefit us all. But they also come with great risk if they are not used for good, in a privacy-protective and ethical way.”

Ralph noted the government has started a review of the privacy act.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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