On the Identity Trail releases Access to Information User Manual

News Release: January 31, 2006 : Ottawa , ON

On the Identity Trail releases Access to Information User Manual

Many Canadians are unaware of their rights to access information, including their own personal information, from governments and private companies. Yet these rights are fundamental to open government and individual privacy, says Philippa Lawson, Executive Director of the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC). Ms. Lawson directed a team of students who researched access to information laws across Canada and have now produced a Manual explaining those laws.

The Manual fills a gap in public education on issues of government accountability and privacy rights, says Lawson. "While many of the agencies responsible for access to information and privacy across Canada provide guides and Q&As on their websites, these are generally incomplete. And the legal manuals designed for professional lawyers provide more detail than the average user needs. Our User Manual is written for citizens and researchers who aren't legally trained, but who still want to exercise their legal rights."

After an election campaign that focused in large part on issues of government accountability, this Manual is a timely addition to the growing body of online information for citizens. "We hope that other groups and agencies will link to our Manual and that people will use it to pursue public interest issues and to protect their own privacy in both the public and private spheres", adds Lawson.

The Manual is freely available and easily downloadable from the website www.idtrail.org . It is an initiative of "On the Identity Trail", a multidisciplinary research project led by University of Ottawa law professor Ian Kerr and funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council's "Initiatives on the New Economy" program. According to Kerr, "This multi-sectoral initiative provides a powerful tool for citizens and illustrates perfectly the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council's vision of interactive partnerships between universities, industry, governmental and non-governmental organizations."

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Philippa Lawson
Executive Director, CIPPIC
tel: 613-562-5800 x.2556
email: plawson -at- uottawa.ca