Need for consent does not preclude processing requests

Complaint: The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) did not provide proper grounds for refusing access to requested documents.

Investigation: The OIC learned that the RCMP had required the requester to provide the written consent of any individuals whose personal information could appear in the records. When the requester failed to do so, the RCMP refused to process the request.

Outcome: Although the complaint was resolved on other grounds, the RCMP did not appropriately respond to this request.

Information Commissioner’s position

  • Institutions are required to retrieve and review records responsive to requests.
  • Then, if personal information of individuals other than the requester is found in the records, institutions must, when it is reasonable to do so, seek those individuals’ consent to disclose their personal information.
  • Accordingly, the RCMP’s refusal in this case to process the request in the absence of consents was inappropriate.
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