Findings under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA)

PIPEDA Case Summary #2003-123

Radio station collected and disclosed personal information for journalistic purposes

[Subsection 4(2)(c)]


An individual alleged that a local radio station improperly collected and disclosed his personal information when he called to report a crime he had witnessed. He claimed that the news reporter had not asked his permission to record a statement he made regarding the crime, nor did he obtain the individual's consent to broadcast his name and statement on air as part of the station's news coverage.

Summary of Investigation

The radio station has a "news-tip" line that listeners may call if they have witnessed a newsworthy event. Callers to the line are often taped, and their interviews used on air.

The complainant and the station agree that after the complainant confirmed that the station paid for news tips, the complainant related the details of the robbery. The station tape-recorded the complainant's statement and subsequently used a portion of this recording, along with his name, in a news broadcast.

Commissioner's Findings

Issued February 28, 2003

Jurisdiction: As of January 1, 2001, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act applies to any federal work, undertaking, or business.

Application: Although a broadcasting company, such as a radio station, is a federal work, undertaking or business, the Commissioner determined that the station was excluded in this case by virtue of section 4(2)(c). This section states that Part 1 of the Act does not apply to any organization in respect of personal information that the organization collects, uses, or discloses for journalistic, artistic, or literary purposes and does not collect, use, or disclose for any other purpose. The Commissioner was satisfied that the personal information in this case was collected and disclosed for journalistic purposes only.

The Commissioner was therefore unable to make any further determinations in this matter.