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PIPEDA fair information principles

Revised: May 2019

PIPEDA’s 10 fair information principles form the ground rules for the collection, use and disclosure of personal information, as well as for providing access to personal information. They give individuals control over how their personal information is handled in the private sector.

In addition to these principles, PIPEDA states that any collection, use or disclosure of personal information must only be for purposes that a reasonable person would consider appropriate in the circumstances.

The OPC has determined that the following purposes would generally be considered inappropriate by a reasonable person (i.e., no-go zones):

  • collecting, using or disclosing personal information in ways that are otherwise unlawful;
  • profiling or categorizing individuals in a way that leads to unfair, unethical or discriminatory treatment contrary to human rights law;
  • collecting, using or disclosing personal information for purposes that may cause significant harm to someone;
  • publishing personal information with the intent of charging people for its removal;
  • requiring passwords to social media accounts for the purpose of employee screening; and
  • conducting surveillance on an individual using their own device’s audio or video functions.

This section sets out organizations’ responsibilities for each of the 10 fair information principles. It outlines how to fulfill these responsibilities and offers some tips.

Principle 1 - Accountability

An organization is responsible for personal information under its control. It must appoint someone to be accountable for its compliance with these fair information principles.

Principle 2 - Identifying Purposes

The purposes for which the personal information is being collected must be identified by the organization before or at the time of collection.

Principle 3 - Consent

The knowledge and consent of the individual are required for the collection, use, or disclosure of personal information, except where inappropriate.

Principle 4 - Limiting Collection

The collection of personal information must be limited to that which is needed for the purposes identified by the organization. Information must be collected by fair and lawful means.

Principle 5 - Limiting Use, Disclosure, and Retention

Unless the individual consents otherwise or it is required by law, personal information can only be used or disclosed for the purposes for which it was collected. Personal information must only be kept as long as required to serve those purposes.

Principle 6 - Accuracy

Personal information must be as accurate, complete, and up-to-date as possible in order to properly satisfy the purposes for which it is to be used.

Principle 7 - Safeguards

Personal information must be protected by appropriate security relative to the sensitivity of the information.

Principle 8 - Openness

An organization must make detailed information about its policies and practices relating to the management of personal information publicly and readily available.

Principle 9 - Individual Access

Upon request, an individual must be informed of the existence, use, and disclosure of their personal information and be given access to that information. An individual shall be able to challenge the accuracy and completeness of the information and have it amended as appropriate.

Principle 10 - Challenging Compliance

An individual shall be able to challenge an organization’s compliance with the above principles. Their challenge should be addressed to the person accountable for the organization’s compliance with PIPEDA, usually their Chief Privacy Officer.

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