Canada’s New Privacy Act Affects Information Gathering

Personal information is defined as “information about an identifiable individual,” and includes things such as race, ethnic origin, colour, age, marital status, religion, education, medical, criminal, employment or financial history, address and telephone number, numerical identifiers such as social insurance numbers, fingerprints, blood type, tissue or biological samples and views or personal opinions.

Principle 1: Accountability

An organization is responsible for information under its control and shall designate an individual or individuals who are accountable for the organization’s compliance with the following principles.

Principle 2: Identifying Purposes

The purpose for which customer data (personal information) is being collected must be identified at the time of, or prior to, the time the information is collected. And, if you want to use customer data that you have already collected for a new purpose, you will have to identify the new purpose to your customers and obtain new consent.

Principle 3: Consent

You must have the individual’s consent for the collection, use or disclosure of his or her personal data. The law recognizes various forms of consent depending on the sensitivity of the individual’s personal information.

Principle 4: Limiting Collection

The collection of personal information shall be limited to that which is necessary for the purposes identified by the organization. Information shall be collected by fair and lawful means.

Principle 5: Limiting Use, Disclosure and Retention

Personal information shall not be used or disclosed for purposes other than those for which it was collected, except with the consent of the individual or as required by law. Personal information shall be retained only as long as necessary for the fulfillment of those purposes.

Principle 6: Accuracy

Personal information shall be as accurate, complete and up-to-date as is necessary for the purposes for which it is to be used.

Principle 7: Safeguards

Personal information shall be protected by security safeguards appropriate to the sensitivity of the information.

Principle 8: Openness

Organizations will need to readily make available to individuals specific information about its policies and practices relating to the management of personal data.

Principle 9: Individual Access

Upon request, an individual shall be informed of the existence, use and disclosure of his or her personal information and shall be given access to that information. An individual shall be able to challenge the accuracy and completeness of the information and have it amended appropriately.

Principle 10: Challenging Compliance

An individual shall be able to address a challenge concerning compliance with the above principles to the designated individual or individuals accountable for the organization’s compliance.

The key to compliance is letting your customers know what information you have about them. Inform them as to how it will be used. In simplest terms, it forms the premise of responsible marketing. Give the customer what they want, when they want it, and communicate it in the format they desire.

For more information refer to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act