Federal Court


Administrative Law

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION

Interests and administration of justice better served if applicant’s personal health information kept confidential

In 1998, applicant sought judicial review of administrative decision in respect of his entitlement to certain employment related disability benefits. In 2000, judicial review was dismissed. In 2002, applicant noticed that reasons for decision were posted on Federal Court website. Reasons included personal health information about applicant that he wanted to keep private. His request that Internet version of decision be amended to exclude his personal health information was granted. In 2004, applicant was appointed Ombudsman at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which administered domain names for the Internet. In 2004, K lodged complaint with ICANN respecting Universal Domain Name Resolution Policy adjudication. Applicant determined that he did not have jurisdiction to hear complaint as K was not person affected by decision. In February 2011, K found information on the Internet concerning applicant’s 1998 judicial review application. He posted link to Federal Court docket and reasons in two separate tweets on his Twitter account. K also posted tweet which contained personal health information about applicant. After protest by applicant, tweet was taken down. At that time applicant realized that, despite direction from court, his personal health information had not been removed from Internet versions of decision. In May 2012, applicant filed a motion requesting confidentiality order over underlying file in matter, which was granted. K brought motion to set aside confidentiality order. Motion granted in part. Confidentiality order was unnecessarily broad. In order to ensure that court proceedings remained presumptively open and accessible to public and media, reasons for decision shall be made public and material related applicant’s file shall no longer be kept confidential. However, interests and administration of justice were better served if applicant’s personal health information was kept confidential. Allowing applicant’s health information to be publicly available would cause objectively discernible harm to his privacy and professional reputational interests. Redaction of reference to applicant’s health information did not alter decision in any way.

Fowlie v. R. (Apr. 24, 2015, F.C., Donald J. Rennie J., File No. T-1971-98) 260 A.C.W.S. (3d)

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