Alberta’s Bill 8, the Missing Persons Act, is new legislation that could compel a wide range of information holders to provide personal information to police. The only criteria for disclosure is a third party approaching and convincing police that a person might be missing and they can be convinced that the person is potentially unsafe or there are reasons to be concerned about the missing person’s welfare (regardless of whether or not this is true, or if the third party is credible).
People in Alberta would be compelled to disclose information to the police on demand, yet there does not need to proof that the person in question is a crime victim. The definition of how a person is known to be missing is very broad and does not appear to protect individuals who might legitimately need to withhold knowledge about their whereabouts (such as a person fleeing an abusive relationships, or someone trying to get a new start on life away from gangs).
This bill potentially opens up police access to information broadly to all Albertans, without need for criminal charges, and may allow for wide disclosure of personal information without appropriate safeguards.
Personal identifying information open to disclosure includes all records containing contact or identifying information, such as:
- Telephone and other electronic information
- Video records
- Employment Information
- Health Information
- School and Post Secondary Information
- Travel and Accommodation Information
- plus, “any other records as the justice of the peace considers appropriate.”