Nova Scotia

Demeaning Snapchat video taken of inmate investigated by privacy commissioner

Nova Scotia's privacy commissioner is now investigating a brief video, with a demeaning caption, posted to Snapchat of an inmate in what appears to be a provincial jail.

Warning: comment attached to video contains offensive language

It's believed the video was taken inside the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Dartmouth. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Nova Scotia's privacy commissioner is now reviewing a video recently posted to Snapchat of what appears to be an inmate at a provincial jail, to determine if the 20-second snippet was a violation of that person's privacy rights.

The video was first brought to the attention of commissioner Tricia Ralph after the Halifax Examiner posted a story about it, including a screen capture of the comments attached to the images.

"Feeding this fat f--king retard ice cream at 1:30am so she'll go back to sleep and stop crying 'diabetic low,'" the comment said.

Janet Burt-Gerrans, a senior investigator at the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, said Monday that Ralph would issue a report and release it to the public once she had concluded her investigation. There is no estimate on how long that would take.

According to Burt-Gerrans, the office is trying to determine whether that inmate's privacy rights had been violated as a result of the video being taken and posted online.

The law that governs the office allows for any privacy review officer to "initiate an investigation of privacy compliance if there are reasonable grounds to believe that a person has contravened or is about to contravene the privacy provisions" in the law.

Emma Halpern is executive director of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Nova Scotia. (Dave Laughlin/CBC)

The executive director of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia, Emma Halpern, described the post as "incredibly sexist, dehumanizing, discriminatory, demeaning and derogatory."

She said it appears from the video that it was shot at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Dartmouth, also known as the Burnside jail. She said it appears to have been taken from a surveillance monitor in an area guards sit and oversee the inside of the jail. It was posted either March 31 or April 1, according to the Examiner.

Halpern said she was glad Nova Scotia's privacy commissioner was looking into the matter.

"I'm pleased to see that the privacy commissioner is looking into it and I do understand that there is also an internal investigation happening," said Halpern. "There is without question a breach of this woman's privacy, that is a very serious concern and should not be happening.

"We need to figure out how something like this did occur and ensure that privacy is maintained going forward."