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Privacy groups pan government’s proposed ID Card ‘consultation’

BC Government literally won’t take no for an answer

VANCOUVER–The BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) and the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (FIPA) are calling on the BC government to make major changes to a proposed public consultation on the new ID Card released earlier this year. Letter available here: ID Card consultations

The consultation announced last week will centre on a panel of randomly selected British Columbians, who will have until Christmas to hand in a report on the new BC Services Card and the government’s digital services strategy.

However, the panel is specifically denied the ability to recommend the Card program be stopped, and British Columbians not selected for the panel will only be able to give their input electronically, in response to government-written scenarios.

“This consultation is more than a day late and a dollar short,” said Josh Paterson, BCCLA Executive Director. “British Columbians need to be heard on this issue, and they should be able to express themselves as they see fit. That’s how the government gets the best advice from citizens – not by restricting what a citizen panel is allowed to conclude.”

The BC Services Card is a key part of the BC government’s broader “e-government” strategy – a comprehensive identity management system meant to facilitate online access to government services and the integration of databases that contain citizen’s personal information. The government launched the cards in mid-February, but Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham insisted the government conduct a “fulsome” consultation before the next phase of implementation.

“The fact the government won’t let the consultation recommend putting a stop to the program speaks volumes about how worried they are,” said Vincent Gogolek, FIPA’s Executive Director. “If they genuinely want British Columbians to have a say, they would leave all options open. “