Snooping employee prompts privacy commissioner to admonish City of St. John's

The incident started when a parking enforcement officer was allegedly assaulted on the job.

'We are taking this matter very seriously,' says Mayor Danny Breen

After a City of St. John's parking enforcement employee was allegedly assaulted, he asked another municipal employee to access the alleged assailant's personal information. (AFP/Getty Images)

The City of St. John's has had its knuckles rapped by the provincial privacy commissioner after an employee snooped in the motor vehicle files of a person involved in a dispute with a parking enforcement officer.

The officer was allegedly assaulted on duty, according to a report by Donovan Molloy. 

We are taking this matter very seriously.- Mayor Danny Breen

After the incident, he said the employee asked another city worker to access the suspect's personal information in the motor registration database. 

In a report released Friday, Molloy said the city had not taken reasonable steps "to safeguard personal information against unauthorized access, use or disclosure."

He recommends that the City:

  • Ensure all employees receive adequate privacy training.
  • Renew its Information Sharing Agreement with Service NL
  • Do more to foster a privacy culture, especially within its Planning, Engineering and Regulatory Services department.

Mayor: City committed to more privacy training

In an emailed statement, Mayor Danny Breen said the City of St. John's is reviewing the report and will provide a further response soon. 

Mayor Danny Breen says the City of St. John's has 'taken appropriate action' regarding the employee in question, but does not specify what that is. (City of St. John's)

"When the incident occurred, the privacy breach was reported to the commissioner's office and to the individual whose privacy was breached. We are taking this matter very seriously and are cooperating with the commissioner," Breen said in the statement.

"We have also taken appropriate action with respect to the employee in question, and are committed to further privacy training with staff."