Public needs access to electronic records says Ont. appeal court
The Ontario Court of Appeal, in a 3-0 decision issued January 13, has ruled that municipal governments must make available electronic records that the public is entitled to see under freedom of information even if it means developing new software to do so.
The case was sparked by requests from a Toronto Star reporter for documentation of contacts between Toronto police and citizens that was stored in two electronic databases. The court ruled that the Toronto Police Services Board "immediately" respond to the requests.
This is the first time that a court has ruled on the scope of the public's and the media's right to obtain electronic documentation under the province's freedom of information law.
Ontario's Information and Privacy Commissioner said the decision is a "landmark" ruling that applies the principles of openness and transparency to electronic and paper records that municipal governments hold.
Read the complete decision regarding the Toronto Police Services Board v. (Ontario) Information and Privacy Commissioner, January 13, 2009.