Amendment to FIPPA could provide students with better learning technology

Campus National News

Potential to implement cloud-based learning software

Image via Pixabay

On Oct 21, the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia made amendments to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) that could modernize learning for UVic students, allowing authority for the disclosure of personal information inside or outside Canada for temporary processing.

The amendment allows for information to now be able to leave Canada for temporary data processing on the condition that no intentional access be granted to an individual. Before this amendment was made, information was barred from leaving Canada entirely without an individual’s consent.

“That’s a really important amendment to the act, because it allows the act to protect where information is stored but allows some of these advanced cloud technologies to be used in British Columbia, things like Office 365,” said Bradley Weldon, UVic’s Chief Privacy Officer.

B.C.’s FIPPA was passed in 1992 by the Legislative Assembly. The structure of FIPPA centered around granting basic data rights to individuals such as imposing collection limits, requiring public bodies to respond to requests for information, and requiring a certain standard of data safety.

According to Weldon, the new amendments would allow for students at all levels to access greater technology in their classrooms that had previously been barred by the law. 

“[Previous laws] didn’t have at their root a privacy concern,” said Weldon. “They are a result of a labor relations kerfuffle between the Liberal government in 2004 and the public sector unions whose members risked losing jobs because that government wanted to outsource.”

Weldon said that the matter was solved within a privacy bill. He outlined how the provision previously barring data from leaving Canada moved away from serving its original purpose.

“Fast forward 15 years later and what was an innocuous addition in 2004, even probably not a bad idea, has become close to an unworkable solution with the cloud becoming the predominant way in which services are delivered in information technology,” said Weldon.

The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Association (FIPA) had over many years periodically asked the government to update FIPPA to suit the growing need and concern for privacy protection. FIPA disagreed with the new amendments, arguing that they would weaken existing data security for British Columbians.