POLICE AND PRIVACY

A little over a year ago the BC Civil Liberties Association raised the issue of the police database (called PRIME-BC) collecting information on law-abiding citizens (1).  They state “that as many as 85% of British Columbia’s adult population have “master name records” in the PRIME-BC police database”. The Solicitor General was asked to investigate.  According to the BCCLA, they have received no additional information.  The Solicitor General’s office has not responded to my email.

The Privacy Commissioners office is “examining the issue of employment-related criminal records checks” and the report is, apparently, due out this month. This is a very narrow focus and does not answer the broader questions.

My questions are:

  1. Why are the police collecting information on law-abiding citizens and under what circumstances is it being collected?
  2. How is this information being used?
  3. With whom is it being shared?
  4. How long is it kept?

Apparently, no government office thinks we have the right to answers.

It was pointed out to me that the records of a criminal are legally required to be deleted after a certain period of time. A law-abiding citizen, apparently, has no such right and, it appears, records may be kept indefinitely.

Apparently the database includes “negative police contact” which, I understand, includes being a witness to a crime, or “residents of a building in which crime was occurring in a different unit, and if you refuse to answer their questions you are listed as “uncooperative”. Personally, I would rather be listed as “uncooperative” than provide personal information (it does depend on the situation). At least I know that all they have to enter in the database and share is “uncooperative”. When I have answers to the questions above I will reconsider my willingness to “cooperate”. Until then, as far as I am concerned, they don’t deserve my cooperation.

The next two blogs will show how this may become an issue with medical information.

 

(1) BCCLA – www.bccla.org – More than eight out of every 10 BC adults in police database, March 22, 2011 (topic: police accountability) –

FIPA – www.fipa.org – Information and Privacy Commissioner announces investigation of

BC’s PRIME police database – March 29, 2011

Vancouver Sun – Are you in the police bad book? March 29, 2011

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