IPC/Ontario Continues to Show Pragmatism in Dealing with e-FOI Issues

The Information and Privacy Commissioner/Ontario has thus far demonstrated a good deal of pragmatism in exercising its power to review the quality of FIPPA and MFIPPA institutions’ e-mail searches. On June 30th, for example, it issued an order in which a requester claimed that an institution ought to have retained an independent IT expert to search and retrieve responsive e-mails, including “erased e-mails.” Despite the requester’s perception of conflict, IPC Adjudicator Morrow upheld the institution’s search as “coherent, systematic and responsible” in the circumstances.

This demonstrates that the IPC will defer to a reasonable search process and, absent special circumstances, is not likely to order the use of an external “e-discovery vendor.” Note that the IPC has also endorsed the choice to use vendors, a choice which allows institutions to pass through 100% of the reasonable costs of search and retrieval (which is not the case for internal searches). For an example of a case in which the use of an external IT vendor led to a valid yet very high yet reasonable fee estimate see Order MO-2154 .

See also Strong deference to search process demonstrated in “e-FOI” case.

IPC Order MO-2634, 2011 CanLII 43653 (ON IPC).

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