B.C.’s attorney general answered Saanich’s call and has taken to the courts in a bid to retrieve thousands of files the district alleges a former employee wrongly copied.
The attorney general’s filing accuses Guy Gondor, a Victoria resident and Saanich’s IT manager until Feb. 17, 2022, of copying the files and sharing them with his son in connection to a neighbour dispute. A petition filed to B.C.’s Supreme Court on May 17 calls for an order demanding the copied items, which contain hundreds of files with private information, be returned or destroyed.
The lawsuit claims Gondor copied 2,580 district files to his personal drive on two dates in December 2021 and January of last year. It adds that two DVDs were created in February 2022 with 2,192 files matching those copied in the months prior, and only Gondor’s username was determined to have copied the records onto the discs.
Saanich identified 301 copied files containing personal information, which the lawsuit said includes residential addresses, owner names, personal email addresses, phone numbers, personal views and opinions of third parties and internal employee ID numbers.
The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia (OIPC) received an anonymous letter with the two DVDs on Feb. 18, 2022, and sent both the letter and discs to Saanich weeks later. The privacy commissioner’s office has received packages containing the same two DVDs from four additional individuals since the day after Gondor’s last day.
On March 24, 2022, Gondor’s son Darian emailed Saanich’s manager of environmental services with complaints about activities on his neighbour’s property. Two documents attached in the email included a copy of an environmental services breach-of-covenant letter Saanich had sent to property owners living adjacent to Darian and a field report, completed by the district’s engineering department, regarding a possible bylaw violation at the same neighbouring property.
The lawsuit claims the letter and report in Darian’s email were among the district records copied by Gondor and added neither the former IT manager nor his son had any personal involvement in the matters. No freedom of information requests were made for those files either, the petition stated.
“Darian Gondor had no lawful means to directly access the district letter or the district report,” the lawsuit said.
Saanich wrote to Gondor in May and June 2022 demanding the destruction of all the engineering record copies he or other third parties possess.
The lawsuit said Gondor denied he had the privileges to access engineering records while he was an employee and he has refused to or failed to comply with several written demands.
Following processes set out in B.C.’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the district in July 2022 asked the attorney general to petition the court for an order requiring Gondor and any third parties to return or destroy the copied records.
The petition states the district has a statutory right to protect personal information and the copied items are also subject to the privacy rights of the individuals they relate to.
“The copying, removal, disclosure and possession of the identified records by the respondent was clearly unauthorized,” the lawsuit states.
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