Audio recording: disclosure unlikely to harm investigation; not personal information

Complaint: The Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP refused under sections 16 and 19 to release an audio recording of an RCMP dispatcher instructing a constable to respond to the scene of reported gunshots.

Investigation: The OIC found that the recording did not fall within the scope of section 16 because, among other reasons, releasing it would not harm the investigation, since the RCMP had already given a written transcript of it to the requester. In addition, all disciplinary investigations had been concluded. Section 19 did not apply because the recording was made in the course of the two RCMP members’ professional duties and therefore did not constitute personal information, as defined in the Privacy Act.

Outcome: The institution released the recording in response to the Information Commissioner’s recommendation.

Information Commissioner’s position

  • Institutions must demonstrate a reasonable expectation of harm to an ongoing investigation when relying on section 16.
  • An audio recording made in the course of professional activities did not, in this instance, constitute personal information.
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