Nova Scotia won’t say why freedom of information website taken offline

Nova Scotia's Internal Services Minister Patricia Arab speaks to media on April 10, 2018. Jeremy Keefe/Global News

Nova Scotia’s Freedom of Information and Privacy web portal has been down for six days and there’s no word from the minister responsible whether there’s been a privacy breach.

Internal Services Minister Patricia Arab would only say when asked about a breach Tuesday that an “issue” was found last Thursday and technicians are working as quickly as possible to solve it.

“I really only know that there is an issue and when we have more information we can come back and let you know,” Arab told reporters.

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Arab was asked whether there was something she knows that she can’t make public at this point.

“We take privacy and security very seriously, but all I can say was there was an issue and we’ve taken it down,” she said. “The FOIPOP office is still running, so requests are still being processed.”

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Arab said new requests can be submitted via email or in writing and they can be checked through a phone call to the Office of Information Access and Privacy.

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“Definitely it’s business as usual and as soon as we can get things moving we will,” she said.

Nova Scotia's Department of Internal Services

Progressive Conservative house leader Chris d’Entremont raised the issue during question period and said six days is “probably five days too many.”

D’Entremont said given the length of time, he has concerns on whether there’s been a breach of personal and credit card information

“There’s a lot of information that gets flown through that (portal) … but there’s also monetary things on there in order to get a FOIPOP. You have to apply and put your name and your address into it so what’s up with that?”

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He said to be told simply after six days that the office is still open to phone and email inquiries isn’t good enough given the reliance of many on the technology.

WATCH: Nova Scotia’s new FOIPOP website welcome but ‘systemic problems’ persist

Click to play video: 'Nova Scotia’s new FOIPOP website welcome but ‘systemic problems’ persist: critics'
Nova Scotia’s new FOIPOP website welcome but ‘systemic problems’ persist: critics

NDP Leader Gary Burrill said the whole purpose of Freedom of Information is to ensure governments are forthright.

“Not part forthright, half forthright, but 100 per cent forthright,” he said. “These don’t sound to me like 100 per cent forthright answers, we can do better than that.”

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