Energy and Utilities Board Found in Contravention of FOIP

September 13, 2007

The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner has determined that the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board (EUB) contravened the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP) when it hired private investigators to monitor proceedings at Rimbey, Alberta.

The investigation, which was authorized by Commissioner Frank Work, found the EUB did collect personal information about individuals from private investigators during proceedings for a high voltage power line at Rimbey. The investigation determined the personal information collected was not necessary for the Rimbey proceedings and the collection was not for the purposes of law enforcement.

Consequently, the investigation finds that the collection was not authorized under section 33(b) or section 33(c) of the FOIP Act.

The investigation also found that the EUB did not fulfill its obligations as required by the FOIP Act when it employed the private investigators because it did not ensure there were safeguards in place to protect personal information against such risks as unauthorized access, collection, use, disclosure or destruction.

As a result of the investigation, the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner has made recommendations to the EUB, which include:

  • The EUB should consider establishing a policy regarding the employment of undercover private investigators. That policy should include clear guidelines which will specify how the decision to hire private investigators is made and outline the requirements of the EUB for privacy protection.
  • The EUB should clearly define the roles and expectations of private investigators in a contractual agreement and that the agreement should incorporate privacy protection provisions.