The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (the ATIPPA) was passed by the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly in March of 2002. The access provisions were proclaimed into force on January 17, 2005 and the privacy provisions were proclaimed into force on January 16, 2008. The ATIPPA replaces the old Freedom of Information Act which came into effect in 1981. The ATIPPA governs access to records in the custody of or under the control of a public body and sets out requirements for the collection, use, storage and disclosure of personal information contained in the records they maintain.
A public body is defined in section 2 of the legislation and includes provincial departments and agencies, school districts, public post-secondary institutions, health boards and municipalities.
A cornerstone of this legislation is the establishment of this Office as the independent review mechanism. As such, the Information and Privacy Commissioner has been given specific powers to investigate requests and complaints from individuals and groups who feel that their access to information rights or their privacy rights, as provided for in the ATIPPA, have been violated. While the Commissioner does not have the power to make final and binding orders, he does have the power to require a public body to produce any document that he feels is relevant to an investigation. The Commissioner may also enter an office of a public body and examine, and if necessary make copies of, a record in the custody of the public body.
It is important to note the distinction between the provincial ATIPP Office and the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner. The ATIPP Office, as part of the Office of Public Engagement, is responsible for the overall administration and coordination of the legislation, while the Commissioner, as an Officer of the House of Assembly, acts as the independent review mechanism under the legislation. Specific information on the role of the ATIPP Office can be found at the Office of Public Engagement..