Jason R. Baron | Lawyer, Drinker Biddle LLP and former Director of Litigation, US National Archives

“The Looming Barrier: Strategies for Isolating Sensitive Content in Digital Archives to Enable Greater Access to the Historical Record”

We are currently in the midst of a grand recordkeeping and archives policy experiment being carried out by hundreds of federal agencies in the U.S. government.  By December 31, 2019, all federal agencies are to begin managing and preserving in digital form all of their records appraised as permanent, for eventual accessioning at the US National Archives.  E-mail records form only a subset of this very large universe of records. Will this change in recordkeeping and archival policy be successful? How do we measure success if the preserved records are effectively rendered inaccessible to civil society for many, many decades to come, by virtue of the sensitive content embedded within them? And is there a way to incorporate recent advances in AI to the task of filtering sensitive content from large archival collections, so as to enable more contemporaneous access? This session will continue a discussion presented in various recent international forums about a looming public policy issue of considerable importance to the archival community at large.

Jean-Francois Blanchette | Associate Professor, Department of Information Studies, UCLA

“Document Theory and Archival Ethics: The Case of Bodycam Footage”

In the United States, the purported benefits of deployment of body cameras within police forces have brought together unlikely bedfellows: civil-rights organizations (e.g., the ACLU) and law enforcement leaders have together argued that bodycams are a win-win by providing a source of superior evidence than can curtail excessive police force while at the same time protecting officers from spurious claims of wrongdoing. This is a surprising argument, if only because it puts the ACLU in the position of arguing for the policy benefits of the massive deployment of surveillance apparatus by police forces.

Bodycams advocates have also argued that these benefits will depend on policies that appropriately frame their use, chief among these, that footage be defined as public record so as to provide transparent access to the public. In this presentation, I analyze bodycam footage as an instance of the contemporary evolution of documents: in terms of its digital materiality (e.g., massive volume, better outsourced to the commercial cloud), its dual semiotic nature as both audiovisual representation and data to be mined through computational tools, and its charged social context that pits bystander video against official record. Such an analysis can help stakeholders to devise policies and ethical positions that better account for the multi-dimensional nature of the technology.

Jay Fedorak | Deputy Commissioner, Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner

“Information Management, Technology and the Future of Democratic Accountability”

This presentation will examine how changes in records technology have affected our ability to scrutinize public policy-making and hold politicians and public servants accountable. The thesis is that technological change is eroding accountability and that we need to take corrective action, to preserve the democratic character of our political institutions. The implementation of telephone, email, text and other electronic communications has given public officials means of communication that are easier to destroy and difficult to preserve, while the explosion of information makes it of decreasing value to the analysis of public policy decision making.

The results of these developments are that it is easier for public officials to escape scrutiny.  This is important because, in a political culture increasingly infiltrated by fake news, it is even more crucial to ensure democratic accountability and increase the numbers of voters who make their decisions based on facts and sound arguments rather than prejudice and misinformation.

To ensure real accountability that will preserve and improve the democratic system of government we all cherish, it is essential that we have an effective system of regulated public access to records of significance.

Pierluigi Feliciati | Professor MAS Program, and Vice President Information Technologies, University of Macerata

“The rights to be accessed. The EU Data Protection regulations and its implications on records management”

This presentation aims to present the novelties of GDPR, EU General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679, whose application in EU member States is scheduled for next may 2018, and its foreseeable effects on records management, personal data protection and access to information. A continental-level legislation on privacy leads crucial effects on Freedom Of Information national policies, at extra-national level, as well as on records management and use. First, the presentation will discuss the principle of privacy by design in substitution to the previous model based on the binomial privacy disclaimer publication > personal consent to processing. Another interesting topic to be discussed concerns the effects of GDPR on the extraction and public release of open data. This side of the question could become one of the main issues for micro-data producers, managers and releasers, considering the risks of personal informations revelation even without an explicit reference. The methods to protect micro-data from harvesting include data sampling, special semi-automatic restrictions and thresholds, all with the goal of masking or synthetizing personal data.

Vincent Gogolek | Executive Director of the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association

“Why Can’t Johnny Write?”

The documentation of decision making and policy development by public bodies was once considered to be an integral as part of the proper functioning of government, but in recent years that has been less and less the case.

We have seen increasing reports of government officials either failing to keep records or actually destroying them, sometimes even after they were requested through Freedom of Information. In some of these incidents, officials claim the records they destroyed fall under a remarkably broad interpretation of what is a ‘transitional’ record. In other cases, there is deliberate destruction of records to avoid disclosure of information.  

In some cases there have been criminal charges and convictions for the deliberate destruction of records or for interfering in the investigation of missing records.

Canada’s Information Commissioners have recommended creation of a legislative duty to document to make sure that records are created and preserved. In 2016, both the Commons ATI, Ethics and Privacy committee and the BC Special Committee reviewing FIPPA recommended governments create a legislative duty to document.

Recent polling in BC showed 97% of British Columbians believe it is important that government officials be legally required to keep accurate, complete records.

Legislative changes are required to ensure creation and preservation of records, and penalties for those who fail to keep proper records or who destroy them.


Rand Jimerson | Professor & Director, Archives and Records Management Program, Western Washington University

“Access as a Core Value of Archivists: Possibilities and Limitations”

As the Society of American Archivists declares, “access and use” is a core value of archivists. Access to records supports another core value, “accountability.” In a democratic society access to governmental, business, academic, and other important records protects the rights and interests of citizens and provides information essential to proper governance. In administering procedures by which such records are open and accessible, archivists also fulfill another of their core values, “social responsibility.” In the current political climate of the United States, these archival values are daily challenged, debated, and negotiated. This presentation explores the creation of the “Core Values of Archivists” statement, and how these issues influence current and future archival practices and their implications for public policy debates. Although access affords many possibilities, it is not an absolute value. Concerns for personal privacy also must be considered in developing and administering archival policies for access and use of records in all types of repositories.

Sam-chin Li | Reference/Government Publications Librarian at the University of Toronto

“Disappearing Government Information: Stewardship in a Digital Age”

Public access to government information is a basic requirement for a democratic society. The dramatic shift from print to born-digital government information has transformed the way libraries provide services for this information. An enormous amount of information has disappeared from government websites due to the ephemeral nature of web content, technological obsolescence and changes in information policy. This presentation will focus on our stewardship role in the digital age which includes participating in and initiating projects in preservation, resource discovery and long-term public access to government information. Web archiving, digitization, LOCKSS and fugitive document projects will be presented.

Kristina Lillico | Director, Regional Services and ATIP, Library and Archives Canada

“Balancing Access and Privacy – Challenges, Opportunities, Responsibilities”

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) serves as the continuing memory of the Government of Canada and its institutions. As such, it holds records which document important decisions that had an impact on citizens in the past, and may continue to impact the lives of Canadians both in the present and in the future. Balancing the right to access to those documents together with respect for the right to privacy creates unique challenges for an archive: ensuring fairness while supporting democratic rights, and doing so in an era of reconciliation, an era when Access To Information and Privacy legislation has evolved, and also an era when Open Government is a desirable goal. Come and hear more about how LAC works proactively with Canadians and Government to manage access to its holdings in an open and transparent manner, while ensuring the privacy of individuals.

Stuart Rennie | Lawyer and Records Management and Information Consultant, Vancouver

“Prove it or Lose it: Content and Context in a Digital Age”

As never before, technology is changing how we balance access and privacy in a digital age. Increasingly, organizations are obliged to provide evidence to prove their compliance with legal and business requirements, especially how they provide access to records while at the same time protecting personal privacy of the information contained in that record. An excellent starting point to reconciling this apparent conflict is for records and archives professionals to go back to basics of what is a record. The three basic aspects of a record are: content, context and structure. Taking the example of implementing an electronic document and records management system, the author will show how these three basics can be applied to meet legal, business and archival requirements for access and privacy.

Jim Suderman | Director, Access and Privacy, Records Program, and City of Archives for the City of Toronto

“Uncertain Access: Evolving Imperatives for Accessing Information”