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Concern raised over online disclosure - The Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band

The Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band was created by agreement between the Government of Canada and the Federation of Newfoundland Indians and formally established in 2011. The Band gives formal status to the Mi’kmaq people who are scattered around Newfoundland and cannot therefore be described with reference to land they collectively occupy.

The agreement establishing the Qalipu set up an enrollment process which called for the full name and date of birth of all founding band members to be published in the Canada Gazette, which is available online.

A woman who had been recognized as a founding member complained to our Office that Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) was putting her at risk of identity theft by widely publishing such complete personal information.

Our investigation determined that the disclosure of the complainant’s name and date of birth was consistent with the Privacy Act provision that personal information can be disclosed without the individual’s consent when the disclosure is for the purpose for which the information was originally collected.

As well, the disclosure was for the identification and recognition of Band members, the very reason why it was initially collected on enrollment forms.

We found the complaint to be not well founded. Given identity theft is a real risk in today’s electronic environment however, we asked that AANDC explore other options in the future. Possibilities include furnishing only a partial date of birth or enabling linking through another identifier to an offline registry that contains the date of birth.

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