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use the personal information of Canadians,

it must do so in a way that does not unduly

interfere with people’s privacy.

The

Privacy Act

thus sets out the privacy

rights of Canadians in their interactions with

the federal government.

It obliges government institutions to respect

the privacy of individuals by controlling the

collection, use, disclosure, retention and

disposal of recorded personal information.

Yo u r R i g h t t o P r i va c y

The

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

does not specifically mention privacy or

the protection of personal information.

However, it does afford protection under

Section 7 (the right to life, liberty and the

security of the person), and Section 8 (the

right to be secure against unreasonable

search or seizure).

The Supreme Court of Canada has stated

that the

Privacy Act

has “quasi-constitutional

status”, and that the values and rights set out

in the Act are closely linked to those set out

in the Constitution as being necessary to a

free and democratic society.

In particular it states that:

The government can only collect

personal information that relates directly

to one of its operating programs or

activities;

Wherever possible, the information

should be collected directly from the

person it is about and the individual

should be informed about the purpose

of the collection;

The government should take all

reasonable steps to ensure that the

information it collects is accurate, up-to-

date and complete;

The government may only use the

personal information for the purposes

that it collected it, or for a use consistent

with that purpose (unless the individual

consents to other uses), and

Personal information may be disclosed

by a government institution without an

individual’s consent where permitted

under the Act. For example, it can be

disclosed for the purpose of complying

with warrants or court orders; where

the disclosure is authorized in federal

legislation; where disclosure would

clearly benefit the individual, or

where the public interest in disclosure

outweighs the invasion of privacy.

P e r s o n a l I n f o r m at i o n

The

Privacy Act

offers protections for

personal information, which it defines as any

recorded information “about an identifiable

individual.”

It can include your race or colour; national

or ethnic origin; religion; age; marital status;

blood type; fingerprints; medical, criminal

or employment history; information on

financial transactions; home address; and

your Social Insurance Number (SIN),

driver’s licence or any other identifying

number assigned to you.

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