Freedom of Information and Privacy

Brokering Access Book cover - Mike Larsen and Kevin Walby.jpg

Project Team Leader: Mike Larsen, Department of Criminology, KPU, President, BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (BC FIPA),

The purpose of this research project is to explore issues at the intersection freedom of information, privacy, and social justice movements, with a view to developing and expanding public education resources.Contestations over the right to know what government bodies are doing and the right to safeguard personal information are central to the advancement and protection of social justice and civil liberties, especially in a socio-historical context characterized by an increasing unevenness of transparency; everyday lives are becoming increasingly transparent and subject to surveillance and social sorting, while the actions of governments and institutions are increasingly being rendered opaque through reference to confidentiality and the imperatives of security. Against this backdrop, researchers, members of social movements, and citizens in a participatory democracy must learn about and engage with legal mechanisms and processes that govern access to information and privacy rights. Leading Canadian civil society groups working in the information and privacy field have increasingly taken an interest in collaborating with researchers and community organizers in the development of public education resources that help members of the public to exercise their right to know and protect their privacy. This project aims to assist community partners in the development and refinement of public education resources. A second and related goal is to conduct researcher on the experiences of novice users of FOI and Privacy mechanisms in order to better inform education, advocacy and law reform efforts. 


Mike Larsen is the President of the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, Canada’s oldest and most active nonprofit organization dedicated to information and privacy rights. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Institute for Information and Privacy Studies (CIIPS). He has organized and led training workshops on Freedom of Information for a variety of groups (including activists, prisoners’ rights groups, lawyers, librarians, journalists, students, and First Nations groups), published public education resources on FOI (including Access In the Academy: Bringing FOI and ATI to Academic Research, 2013), contributed to the scholarly literature on Access to Information (including co-editing Brokering Access: Power, Politics, and Freedom of Information Process in Canada, UBC Press, 2012), and assisted the BC Civil Liberties Association in the development of an online resource for individuals and groups seeking to learn about whether and how they are being monitored by the federal government. He is particularly interested in working with the Social Justice Centre to break down barriers that prevent individuals and groups from effectively exercising their information and privacy rights.


Recent Media Engagements

Mike often contributes commentary and analysis to news media stories related to surveillance, freedom of information,and privacy. He engages with the news media in his capacity as a KPU Criminology faculty member and as President of the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association.

‘Categorical suspicion’: Should UBC continue using Turnitin?

Surrey Mayor vows to replace RCMP

 CBC radio interview re: Surrey Mayor & RCMP. Clip begins at 58 minutes, (Oct. 22).

Freedom of Information

 Redacted: Canadian universities are ‘allergic’ to accountability and information access

Privacy implications of Google Education

Google Education for Classrooms on CBC Spark:, April 8, 2018: Podcast: Do social media-savvy political parties see voters as adversaries?: 

 CFAX 1070, February 23, 2018: FOI reform in BC: 


The Toronto Star (Sabrina Nanji), March 30, 2018: The high cost of accessing public records is a barrier to democracy, experts say: 


Privacy, Social Media, and Democracy in the Context of Big Data (including comments on the Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, and AggregateIQ cases)

CBC (Clare Hennig and The Early Edition), April 1, 2018: 'This is now baked into our system': concern raised over fate of democracy in big data era:


Data Privacy Day Keynote at SFU:

Privacy and Public Pedagogy in an Expository Society 

How is privacy understood and experienced in educational settings today? How do students (in particular) navigate the complex webs of monitoring and information sharing that characterize contemporary educational institutions and, crucially, how do these institutions prepare them to make informed decisions about privacy and personal information? This presentation will explore these questions and situate them in relation to the emergence of what Harcourt (2015) refers to as the ‘expository society’ (Harcourt 2015): a form of social organization in which everyone is increasingly inclined to simultaneously expose themselves and watch others, and where this inclination is facilitated and driven by digital power and technologies. (speaking notes currently being revised)


KPIRG Open Access Media Series: FOI

Recent Posts by Mike Larsen: