07/04/2012 03:41 EDT | Updated 09/03/2012 05:12 EDT

B.C. ends 8-year privacy battle over IBM contract

Freedom of information advocates are claiming victory after the B.C. government confirmed it won't fight a court order to release the details of a $300 million contract with technology giant IBM.

The decision appears to be the last word in an eight-year legal battle by Vince Gogolek and his colleagues at the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association.

Last month, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled there are no security reasons to withhold the remaining sections of the 535-page contract with IBM to provide helpdesk support and workplace technology for much of the provincial civil service.

On Tuesday, the Minister for Open Government Margaret MacDiarmid, said she has decided not to appeal the decision.

"We are acknowledging that the court has said, 'No, you are in error,' and we are going to release this information and not go forward with another appeal."

Gogolek, the executive director of the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, says what the information advocates will now receive are pages that include the names and locations of government computer servers.

But he says there's also an important principle at stake — that taxpayers have the right to a complete and uncensored copy of the government's contract.

"We were looking at a potential trip to the B.C. Court of Appeal over what everybody but the government seemed to agree was information that was not particularly sensitive."

The legal fight is estimated to have cost B.C. taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

"We feel really good that this is finally over. It had really reached the point of absurdity," said Gogolek.

As part of the 2004 deal, 188 government employees working in information technology were offered jobs with IBM.