Institutions must provide evidence that releasing costs would cause harm

Complaint: The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canadian Air Transport Security Authority withheld information under subsection 16(2) about the costs of certain security operations.

Investigation: Both institutions claimed that releasing the aggregate costs could make it possible to determine resource levels and deployment strategies, thus revealing gaps in security. However, neither institution was able to provide a cogent and evidence-based explanation that this was a probable outcome.

Outcome: Further information was released.

Information Commissioner’s position

  • To validly withhold information under subsection 16(2), institutions must provide evidence of a reasonable expectation of harm that would result from disclosing information—aggregate costs, in this case.
  • Speculating about possible harm that may occur due to information’s being derived from released records is insufficient.
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