Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Why not "openhealth".... and have a look at my mole..

When I had heard that there was a web site set up to find something new about Homburg, a public company, I thought good luck with that. Everything imaginable is disclosed when you take your company public and you would have to be pretty native to think you could learn something new about the company and its directors from a search on a PEI Government web site. But when I took a look at the site I was surprised to see my own name was getting a ton of hits and I soon realized that people were searching for PNP connections.... it must have been very disappointing not to find any evidence of such in my case. If you can believe the web site's claim on the number of hits it certainly supports the concept that Islanders tend to be a nosey bunch.... but what about our personal privacy....I don't think the Government was too worried about the info people were finding out about the PNP's as most of the trails led to Companies who probably got their units while the previous Government was in office, most of which appeared to have Tory connections. The Companies that got units this year will be filing their reports out next year and they probably will be looking for ways to be less transparent now that they know they are being watched.... I would suggest that the reason the Province made the site a little tougher to access is their concern that they may be in violation of someone’s privacy particularly as it relates to the Director's home address, which was my complaint.... Corporations Canada have a similar search engine and because of our privacy laws they do not release any information related to the Directors other than their name.... It's kind of funny that someone can hack into a person’s personal information and when that's about someone’s business dealings the public doesn't seem to have an issue.... but if this hacker had set up "openhealth" and we could all look into the Government computers to search anyone's personal health affairs then I could only imagine the uproar...
Internet search engine shut down by province
The Guardian
An Internet search engine that made it easier to search for local companies that may have accessed Provincial Nominee Program funds has essentially been shut down by changes made to the province’s corporate registry. The official P.E.I. registry, located on the provincial government website, allows people to search local companies by business name or number. Peter Rukavina, a local blogger and owner of a web design company, developed a web tool he called OpenCorporations that indexed pages on the government’s site with a search ‘robot.’
Over the week that OpenCorporations has been live there have been over 150,000 searches from 2,100 unique visitors, the vast majority of them from Prince Edward Island. Some of the most frequent users of OpenCorporations.org belonged to:- Government of P.E.I. network - 3,927 searches- Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission network - 2,016 searches- Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency network - 1,057 searches. On average each visitor visited 46 pages, and spent 10 minutes on the site. Source: http://www.ruk.ca/ Websites like Google and Yahoo use the same type of tool. Rukavina’s site allowed users to perform searches on shareholders’ names as opposed to only business names. It also displayed all additional corporations each company shareholder may hold interests in. After only a little over a week, the website was booming. Rukavina originally started OpenCorporations to satisfy a personal question about a company expanding in his area but many have been using it to search for companies that might have received immigrant investment funds through the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). This program has been the subject of much controversy over the last several months. Under the PNP, immigrants got a Canadian visa by investing money in a local company, but questions have been raised about which companies received these investments and about government MLAs’ and a deputy minister’s involvement in them. Within the first 17 hours of going live, Rukavina’s website received 1,368 distinct keyword searches, and ‘Ghiz’ was the most popular. Not anymore. The province has changed the way searches are done on the corporate registry site to keep search robots like Rukavina’s OpenCorporations from indexing its files. “The changes were made to take us back to the status quo,’’ said Katharine Tummon, director of corporations for the office of the provincial attorney general. “When we were apprised of (Rukavina’s site) we immediately were looking to ensure that our corporate registry maintains its integrity.’’ She said the data was set up to be searched by company name only and was never intended to be used the way Rukavina’s website does. She admits there’s nothing in the current legislation to say that it shouldn’t be used this way. This is because the Companies Act hasn’t been updated since this kind of technology became available, Tummon said. “Other jurisdictions have modern provisions that are quite different from ours that place limits on the information.” Rukavina says he believes the public has a right to know the links between company shareholders and the various business interests they may possess, which is essentially what OpenCorporations provided. “I’ve always been able to go to the government website and if I know a company name, find out who its shareholders and directors are,” Rukavina said. “But I’ve never been able to find out what other corporations they control. And I think that connection information is important for people to know about because it goes toward their motivations.’’ He added that he, as well as many of his blog readers, are expressing their disappointment publicly about government’s decision to limit the accessibility of its corporate information.


Anonymous said...

Only in PEI do people feel the need to search other peoples holdings. You're right, people are just nosy.

Theres not one other province where people can search by shareholders/directors. These PNP conspiracy theorists need to get lives.

I agree with you 100%, the government runs a corporations registry, not a people registry.

Anonymous said...

Please correct me if I'm wrong but opencorporations.org is only a different way to search the same data already available on gov.pe.ca.

Home addresses are also displayed on gov.pe.ca, so it's a stretch to say there is any hacking involved.

It's simply an alternative search no different then how we could use Google to search the information on this blog.