Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Editorial urges that naming Canadian tsunami victims is in the public interest

Futher to my earlier posting (PIPEDA and Canadian Privacy Law: Canadian consular officials struggle with whether to name tsunami victims), the Toronto Star has an editorial urging that the Canadian government identify those who are missing or dead in the tsunami disaster: - Privacy law handcuffs government:

It is now grimly probable that the tsunami disaster in Asia 10 days ago has claimed the lives of some 150 Canadian tourists in Thailand. Today the Star is publishing the best information available to Ottawa about the missing Canadians. Handcuffed by privacy laws, the federal government is unable to release the list of names it has compiled from reports by worried friends and relatives.

We believe it is a matter of overwhelming public interest that the information should flow freely so relatives or friends in Canada can tell the authorities if they know someone on the missing list is, in fact, safe. - Giles Gherson Editor-in-Chief"

Section 8 of the Privacy Act allows the government to disclose personal information where it is in the public interest:

8(2) Subject to any other Act of Parliament, personal information under the control of a government institution may be disclosed


(m) for any purpose where, in the opinion of the head of the institution,

(i) the public interest in disclosure clearly outweighs any invasion of privacy that could result from the disclosure, or

(ii) disclosure would clearly benefit the individual to whom the information relates.

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