The (Work) Life of an Early Resolution Officer

June 3, 2015 - Kayla Oishi, Early Resolution Officer

When you come to the Saskatchewan Information and Privacy Commissioner’s (IPC) office with a request for review or breach of privacy complaint, you will first be dealing with us—the Early Resolution Officers (EROs). We are really nice, I swear!

The Early Resolution process at the IPC is relatively new, so I feel that it is important to spread the word of what we actually do to assist the office to streamline our processes and come to that desired “early resolution”. The three main areas that we deal with are;

  1. Request for Reviews
  2. Breach of Privacy Complaints
  3. Summary Advice

For a Request for Review, we want to try to solve the dispute before it has to be put to the review stage, as that can take a lot of time, energy and resources. Our role is to analyze all incoming inquiries to clearly identify and sort issues. So what you can expect is for us to contact you by phone (and later on e-mail, if preferred) and go over your concerns and goals with you. We will then ask if we can contact the public body. From there we will attempt—to the best of our ability—to come to an “early resolution”; whether that be releasing more information to the applicant than what was previously released, or to discover the reasons why nothing was released at all.

When it comes to a breach of privacy complaint, our goal is to gather as much information as possible before opening a file. We begin by asking a few questions:

  • Has the complainant gone to the public body responsible for the breach to report it?
  • Has the breach been contained?
  • When did this occur? (We generally do not investigate a breach that is older than 2 years)
  • If it is a proactively reported breach, have the affected individuals been notified?
  • Has an investigation and report been completed by the public body?

It is important to note that we remain an unbiased party in our reviews and privacy breach investigations—this doesn’t just go for EROs, it goes for everyone in the office that you will deal with. We will, at no time, pick sides. The ERO’s goal is to simply streamline the process as much as we possibly can before having to get an analyst involved, or possibly the Commissioner.

Have an access or privacy related question? Don’t be shy! Give us a call. These questions fall under the “summary advice” category of our position—and believe me, there is no such thing as a “stupid question”. We have heard it all. We can give general, non-binding advice to those seeking information in regards to access requests and privacy breach complaints. But that’s not all—we can also give general advice with issues regarding employee snooping, contact information for other public bodies, etc. If your question is out of our jurisdiction or expertise, we are happy to point you in the right direction.

We understand that undertaking a review or breach investigation with our office may not be the most enjoyable experience, therefore we try our best to make the encounter as quick and pain-free as possible.

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