Systemic investigation into the use of text-based messaging in federal institutions

Rapidly evolving technologies pose a new set of questions and parameters for access to information regimes.  Forms of communication, such as BlackBerry Pin-to-Pin and SMS text messages, create new challenges that may affect requesters’ rights to government-held records.

The Act allows the Information Commissioner to initiate a complaint (external link) when she is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to investigate a matter relating to requesting or obtaining access to records under this legislation.

At this time, there is no Government-wide policy on the use of text-based peer-to-peer forms of communication.  Consequently, the Information Commissioner has initiated a systemic investigation into whether text-based messages containing government information sent from, or received on, government issued wireless devices are properly managed and preserved to ensure the right of access to information.

Eleven institutions have been selected for review based on a number of factors, such as the size of the institution, the volume of requests it receives in a year, or its responsibilities for providing direction and assistance on recordkeeping for the Government of Canada. The institutions included in this investigation are:

  • Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development
  • Foreign Affairs and International Trade
  • Health Canada
  • Industry Canada
  • Justice Canada
  • Library and Archives Canada
  • National Defence
  • Privy Council Office
  • Public Works and Government Services Canada
  • Transport Canada
  • Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat