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Province demands return of thousands of documents allegedly copied by former District of Saanich IT worker

The Attorney General has petitioned the courts to compel a former Saanich IT manager to return to the district documents or digital copies of documents containing personal information

The provincial government is demanding a former District of Saanich employee return or destroy thousands of internal electronic documents he is believed to have copied from the district’s files and used to help his family in a neighbourhood dispute.

The provincial Attorney General has petitioned the courts to compel Guy Gondor to return to the District of Saanich documents or digital copies of documents containing personal information he is alleged to have accessed and copied in December 2021 and January 2022.

The petition also seeks to compel Gondor to destroy any copies made, delete any publication or disseminations of the records and disclose the name of anyone he gave them to.

The court documents allege Gondor, then Saanich’s information and technology manager, accessed and copied 2,580 files from the district’s internal document drive onto his district laptop computer on Dec. 23, 2021 and Jan. 24, 2022.

It also says that on Feb. 14, 2022, two DVDs were created containing 2,226 files, 2,192 of which directly match file names copied from Saanich’s shared files.

According to Saanich, 301 files on the DVDs contained personal information, including residential addresses, owner names, personal email addresses, personal phone numbers, personal views and opinions of third parties and internal employee ID numbers. The petition to the courts noted the only username that was determined to have copied the records found on the DVDs was “WIN/GONDORG,” the one assigned to Gondor.

The province’s petition says that on Feb. 18, the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner received an anonymous letter with the two DVDs, and has received the same from four other individuals since then.

It says that on March 24, 2022, Gondor’s son Darian, who has had a series of disputes with neighbours, sent an email to Saanich’s manager of environmental services complaining about activities on his immediate neighbour’s property.

The email included two documents — a breach of covenant letter Saanich had sent the neighbour and an engineering field report regarding a possible bylaw violation on that same property — neither of which Darian Gondor could lawfully access.

Both documents were part of the engineering records Guy Gondor was accused of copying.

Saanich hired KPMG in March of 2022 to investigate and the consulting firm concluded Guy Gondor had copied the files.

Saanich then demanded Gondor destroy all files in his possession or in the possession of any third party.

The petition says Guy Gondor, who has not filed a statement of defence, denied he had the necessary privileges to access the engineering records when he was employed by the district. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Times Colonist.

None of the allegations in the petition have been proven in court.

In a statement provided to the Times Colonist, the district said Monday it is committed to protecting personal information and follows rigorous privacy and security processes in accordance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

“If a privacy breach occurs, Saanich takes immediate action to investigate, contain and secure the information,” it said, adding when it had the proof it needed, the district demanded the information be returned.

“We sent two demand letters to this individual and the next step under section 73.2 of FIPPA is to ask the Attorney General to petition the superior court for an order requiring the return of the personal information.”

Victoria lawyer Troy DeSouza, an expert in municipal government litigation, said getting the Attorney General involved does not happen often, but Saanich likely went that route as Gondor was an IT manager and would have had access to certain information.

“They’ve probably gone that way just to make sure they’re doing everything by the book,” he said.

He also noted the allegations the information was used by Gondor’s family in a neighbourhood dispute add another twist to the case.

“That’s the kind of situation a local government doesn’t want to have — a staff member utilizing information to benefit family,” he said. “So, I think that’s why there’s a seriousness to that and that’s why I think it makes sense for Saanich to simply utilize the powers under section 73.2 of the Freedom of Information legislation and have the province deal with it.”

DeSouza said the penalties in a case like this are unlikely to be severe.

“The civil rules basically allow for an order to return the information, to destroy any information that’s necessary and then there’ll be costs, if it goes that far,” he said. “In my view, if the case is fairly straightforward, it’s probably worth entering into a consent order to give the province what they want.”

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