Coun. Ben Isitt breached the privacy of multiple Victoria residents on three occasions in 2021, including the unsolicited use of emails and a Twitter spat, the city has found.
The first instance was brought to the city’s knowledge in March 2021 when radio talk-show host Adam Stirling shared a screenshot of one of Isitt’s tweets with city staff.
The Jan. 28 tweet was a response by Isitt to a Victoria resident who accused him of white male privilege on Twitter. Isitt shared images of a letter and email to the resident from several years earlier, when the councillor advocated for a cause at her request. The image of the email included the resident’s email address.
“As soon as I realized that, which was maybe 45 minutes later, I deleted that tweet,” Isitt told Black Press Media. He sent the resident an emailed apology, to which she responded that she appreciated it and noted no breach had occurred since her email is already public online. She tweeted the same.
The city investigated and found Isitt had nonetheless made a privacy breach.
In November and December, more complaints against Isitt arose. Several people reached out to the city after they received unsolicited emails from the councillor, one a newsletter and another a “decade in review” marking his 10th year on council.
Isitt said the breaches date back to 2016 when he included emails he had obtained through correspondence with his city email on a newsletter send list, without the recipients’ permission.
“Since that time I’ve been endeavoring to remove people’s email addresses from that list whenever I receive a request from them,” Isitt said. He believed he had deleted them all, he said, but the November and December complaints made it clear he hadn’t.
These, the city determined, are breaches under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which holds public bodies to account in B.C.
Isitt said he has since deleted his account on the mailing program he was using and has moved the corrected list into a secure spreadsheet.
According to a City of Victoria official, four other privacy complaints were lodged against Isitt in 2021, one which was not substantiated and three which were resolved. No other such complaints have been lodged against other current city council members, the official said.
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