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Transparency great, but not at expense of privacy

The justice system needs to be transparent, but it’s important that rights and interests of those impacted are also are protected, says Toronto criminal lawyer John Rosen.

“The object of the exercise is to have the public see through the media that justice not only appears to be done but also that justice is being done,” says Rosen. “A Ministry review of guidelines applicable throughout the province is welcomed, provided everyone’s rights and interests are respected.”

According to a Toronto Star article, the Ministry of the Attorney General is reviewing policies on media access to criminal court records hoping to make the province’s justice system more transparent.

With that in mind, Rosen says, there is another aspect of an open justice system that must be recognized, and that relates to “whether witnesses, victims, and accused persons have any right to privacy concerning personal information that may form part of the court records,” like home addresses, current employers, SIN numbers and date of birth, among other things.

“At a time where identity theft is a real concern, how do you balance public access with privacy interests,” says Rosen.

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