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Nova Scotia's freedom of information online service reopens after lengthy redesign

·1 min read

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia has restored an online portal through which the public can submit freedom of information requests, almost three years after the site was shut down because of a security breach.

The new site was launched Thursday and allows people to track the progress of requests, pay fees and receive responses.

The site was shut down in March 2018 after a 19-year-old downloaded documents from the site to his home computer.

About 7,000 documents were accessed over two days, affecting 700 people.

The young man wasn't charged because he told officers he had used a widely available software to search for documents about a teachers' labour dispute, and it became clear to authorities that the basic firewalls weren't in place.

The province says it has updated and improved security features on the site to prevent further breaches.

Paula Arab, Nova Scotia's Internal Services minister, said the province has a five-year contract worth $760,000 with two companies to operate the site.

Arab said it took time to set up the portal because the project was split into several parts. One portion involved receiving requests while another involved disclosing documents. Added security measures also required time, she said.

"We wanted to do as many security tests as we could and to come up with the right solutions, and we took seriously two reports given to us following the (security) breach," Arab said.

The new access to information application site can be found at iaprequest.novascotia.ca.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021.

The Canadian Press