Bank satisfies requirement to provide access to personal information by allowing individual to listen to recordings at a branch location

Discontinued Case Summary #2013-003

October 2, 2013


Lessons Learned

  • Organizations may satisfy the requirement to provide access to personal information by allowing a requester to visit a location and listen to audio recordings requested in person.
  • Where organizations provide a fair and reasonable response to an access request, the Commissioner may discontinue a complaint pursuant to paragraph 12.2(1)(c) of PIPEDA.

Complaint

The complainant requested access to recordings of conversations he had with a customer service representative of a bank. He alleged that the bank was not providing him with access to his personal information by refusing to provide him with a copy of the audio recordings and by requiring him to come to a branch of his choice to listen to the recordings. The complainant indicated that he had no time to go to a branch and wanted copies of the audio recordings delivered to him.

Discontinuance of Investigation

PIPEDA does not specify how access is to be provided to a requester. The Federal Court has held that PIPEDA does not guarantee that individuals can access their personal information in a particular form.Footnote 1 Access to personal information does not necessarily mean that copies of the information have to be provided — PIPEDA specifies only the requester be provided with access to such information.Footnote 2

Based on its investigation, our Office determined that the bank’s offer to give the complainant access to his personal information by coming to a branch of his choice to listen to the audio recordings satisfied the requirement for the bank to provide the complainant with access to his personal information in the context of this particular case.

In this case, the bank offered to provide the complainant with access to this personal information; it was the complainant who did not avail himself of this option, as he disagreed with the form of the access being offered. The Commissioner exercised her discretion to discontinue the investigation pursuant to paragraph 12.2(1)(c) of PIPEDA as she was of the opinion that the bank’s offer for giving the complainant access to his personal information was a fair and reasonable response to the complaint in this case.

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