"Commercial activity" is a key concept under PIPEDA.
The private sector privacy obligations under PIPEDA apply to to
every organization in respect of personal information that the
organization "collects, uses or discloses in the course of
So, what is a "commercial activity"? PIPEDA provides
that commercial activity includes "any particular transaction,
act or conduct or any regular course of conduct that is of a
commercial character, including the selling, bartering or leasing
of donor, membership or other fundraising lists." What is a
transaction, act or conduct that is of a "commercial
character"? A good litmus test is to ask whether you are
receiving monetary or non-monetary consideration for your
activities or whether you are providing a service to an
organization engaged in commercial activity? If so, you may be
involved in "commercial activity".
The OPC provides illustrative examples. A doctor is engaged in a
commercial activity when he or she conducts a medical examination
on behalf of an insurance company for the purpose of processing a
benefits claim. A non-profit organization is engaged in a
commercial activity when administering entrance exams as a service
to its members. An on-line social network is engaged in commercial
activity when it uses personal information to enhance user
experience in order to succeed as a commercial enterprise.
About Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP (FMC)
FMC is one of Canada's leading business and litigation law
firms with more than 500 lawyers in six full-service offices
located in the country's key business centres. We focus on
providing outstanding service and value to our clients, and we
strive to excel as a workplace of choice for our people. Regardless
of where you choose to do business in Canada, our strong team of
professionals possess knowledge and expertise on regional, national
and cross-border matters. FMC's well-earned reputation for
consistently delivering the highest quality legal services and
counsel to our clients is complemented by an ongoing commitment to
diversity and inclusion to broaden our insight and perspective on
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