Issues:The Net- To Whom Does Information Belong?

By on May 24, 2017
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By Mike Archer. BC’s Information and Privacy Commissioner inadvertently revealed the true impact of the internet on the nature of information and to whom it belongs.

Printing Press - The technology which stands between your information and the information to which you're entitled

The newspaper industry, represented in this case by The Vancouver Sun, apparently raised objections to the new BC Ferries policy of posting the results of Freedom of Information and Privacy Requests (FOIs) on their website in addition to sending the information to the person or organization that requested the information.

Imagine that. A more forthrightly open and transparent policy is hard to imagine, especially coming from an organization that has an arms-length relationship with the government and is regularly under a fair amount of public scrutiny.

Printing Press – The technology which stands between your and the information to which you’re entitled
Enter the old print media. Remember … they’re the ones who won’t give you information until they’ve had a chance to send it to their printing press, print it and fold it, sort it and deliver it and send it out to you (in the case of community newspapers – whether you want it or not).
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It is an essential part of their business model that they ‘own’ news and information until they’ve had a chance to charge you for it. The dinosaurs are clearly unimpressed with the wild west atmosphere brought on by the internet which allows former paying readers to access just about any information they want just about anytime without asking the newspaper’s permission or paying them a nickel.
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Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham was quoted in The Vancouver Sun on Tuesday saying that BC Ferries’ practice of letting the public have public information at the same time as the newspapers, though legal, frustrates the spirit of the of Information Protection of Privacy Act by denying journalists their ‘scoop’ in releasing the information once they’ve had time to complete the above-mentioned labour and time intensive information delivery process.
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What rubbish!
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Because old newspapers can’t make money unless they keep information from the public until their clunky old print and distribution methods allow them to charge for it we should be forced to wait!
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The owners of the Sun (Postmedia) should make something clear; are they suggesting that, even owning both daily newspapers in town, they may be less prepared to do their job of seeking information on the public’s behalf if they can’t have a legal guarantee of a scoop? If so they may find themselves on the wrong side of an issue that no longer makes sense in the post printing press world.

Ms Denham and The Vancouver Sun need to be reminded of the name of the Act they are discussing … it is the Freedom of Information … Act not the ‘How Newspapers Used To Make A Profit‘ Act.

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