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With technology now affecting every aspect of modern life, there has never

been a more important time to think about your privacy, and to safeguard it

against a broadening range of threats.

For more than three decades, the Office of

the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has

been doing just that. Our job is to see that

the Government of Canada and many of the

private-sector organizations that collect your

personal information do so with care and

respect for your privacy.

Governments and companies compile a huge

array of personal information about you. For

example, some is gathered when you fill out

your tax return or apply for a government

benefit. Some is collected when you use

your credit card or visit websites. And some

is picked up by surveillance cameras, radio-

frequency identification chips embedded

in products and ID cards, and cell phone

tracking devices.

But, in general, your personal information

should only be collected, used and disclosed

with your knowledge, and often your

consent, for legitimate purposes. It must also

be stored, shared and disposed of in a way

that keeps it secure and confidential.

As far back as 1984, the first annual report

of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner

of Canada underscored the importance of

safeguarding personal information.

“Privacy,” the report observed, “is not

simply a precious and often irreplaceable

human resource; respect for privacy is the

acknowledgement of respect for human

dignity and of the individuality of man.”

This guide offers individuals an

overview of the role of our Office and

Canada’s two federal privacy laws:


Privacy Act

, which applies to the

federal public sector, and the


Information Protection and Electronic

Documents Act