Similar details previously posted on the Web negate claim of confidentiality

Complaint: VIA Rail Canada exempted information under section 18.1 in response to a request for the number, by station, of passengers who had gotten on and off trains in 2011 and 2012.

Investigation: The OIC learned that VIA Rail Canada had publicly released the information in question from 2007 to 2010.

Outcome: VIA Rail Canada disclosed the information to the requester.

Information Commissioner’s position

  • Section 18.1 allows four government institutions, including VIA Rail Canada, to refuse to disclose records that contain trade secrets or financial, commercial, scientific or technical information that belongs to them, and that they have consistently treated as confidential.
  • Institutions must meet all of the criteria of the exemption in order to properly claim it.
  • In this case, VIA Rail Canada did not consistently treat the requested information as confidential, as paragraph 18.1(1)(d) requires.
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