The downsides of ATIP

So, we’re three months in and so far ATIP has not turned up anything useful! Today I got a response via e-mail about the most recent request about the Vancouver Hack Space being investigated by the RCMP: This is in response to your request under the Access to Information Act received on March 4, 2011, seeking all information regarding the investigation of the Vancouver Hack Space by the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit, the Major Crime unit and RCMP Tech Crime Unit between June 2007 and December 2010.

Please be advised that we were unable to locate any information relating to your request.

You are entitled to complain to the Information Commissioner concerning the processing of your request within sixty days of the receipt of this notice. In the event you decide to avail yourself of this right, your notice of complaint should be addressed to:

Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada Place de Ville, Tower B 112 Kent Street, 22nd Floor Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1H3

Should you wish to discuss your request, contact Normand Sirois by writing or at (613) 843-6921. For ease of reference, please quote the file number appearing on this letter.

Yours truly,

Jeff Hurry, Insp. A/Departmental Privacy and Access to Information Coordinator</em>

Even though the “Vancouver Hacker Society” was mentioned in the my ATIP file, and even though VHS was across the street from the Olympic Tent Village for the entirety of the Olympics, and even though we have logs showing that the RCMP visited the site, they claim that they have no documents about any investigation of the Vancouver Hack Space by the RCMP. Honestly, any belief that RCMP undercovers didn’t pay a visit to VHS would be completely ridiculous, but it seems that VHS isn’t being investigated, which is a good thing, since the last thing we need is the RCMP being ridiculous and cracking down on people making Arduinos.

So far, the stats on the ATIPs are as follows:

  • 9 Access to Information Requests with the RCMP</li>
  • 1 Request completed with a redacted document</li>
  • 3 Requests completed with a negative result</li>
  • Over 60 days have passed since the 3 requests that I sent that are currently under review</li>
  • No cheques have been cashed as of yet</li> </ul> Now, as for the other Govt. Agencies:
    • 4 Requests sent - 3 to the DND, 1 to Industry Canada</li>
    • One cheque cashed - Industry Canada</li> </ul> There will definitely be more requests to both the RCMP and the DND, but it looks like I have to be better at requesting information from the RCMP if I want to get usable documents, since you have to pay the $5 whether the document exists or not. While seeing if and VHS are being actively looked into by the RCMP is a good idea, neither of these requests yielded any documents, nor did my joke request about the UFO complaints caused by the Grouse Mountain Gondola. I expect the Hackerspaces request to also be empty as well. Now, one thing that I SHOULD have sent an ATIP for is a list of the ATIP requests relating to G8-G20 ISU or the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit. Since there's no good way to see what other people requested, this would at least speed things up a bit, since I could piggy-back on another request instead of having to file the same one. But yeah, I need those cheques cashed before I file any more ATIPs. Hopefully, I'll get a response soon about that issue. Update:</strong> I e-mailed Normand Sirois yesterday before writing the post asking if he searched for the "Vancouver Hacker Society" alias, and it turns out that it wasn't searched. I fortunately don't have to file a new request. This makes more sense, since this group was present in the referrer in the logs, and it was in the IIF reports that the Vancouver 2010 ISU filed. I also got a response about the RCMP's ATIP policy with cheques, the response from Sgt. Kent Swim is below: Please be advised that our department does not process the cheques for a period of 60 days to ensure that our Processing Unit has completed the retrieval of the relevant records. Once this process is complete we forward the cheques to the Receiver General of Canada.</em> It all makes sense now. The reason you can't send a single cheque to cover multiple requests is because each request is not guaranteed to go through at the same time. I guess this is more stupid policy than the RCMP being incapable of doing basic mathematics. This also means that I'll be writing up more ATIPs soon, since I won't be hammered with ten five dollar cheques being cashed all at once. It's still a major downside of the ATIP process, but at least there's some semblance of process involved, and at least it's a lot better than trying to do a Privacy Act request with CSIS.