Not uncommonly, employees may forward information back and forth
between personal and professional email accounts. The reasons for
this practice are varied. Sometimes it is so that the employee can
work on a matter while travelling. In these cases, the employee
sometimes faces a real or simply perceived system limitation. For
example, the employee may not have remote access or the remote
access authentication procedure is perceived to be cumbersome or
not permit functions (such as printing) that the employee considers
necessary. However, there is also the potential of more nefarious
purposes such as the potential misuse or misappropriation of
Recently, Elizabeth Denham, the British Columbia Information and
Privacy Commissioner (IPC), examined this issue in the context of
an investigation into whether personal information was shared
between the British Columbia government and the British Columbia
Liberal Party in contravention of public sector privacy
legislation. No evidence of inappropriate sharing was found.
However, the IPC raised concerns over the exchange of government
information across work and personal email accounts. In particular,
the IPC was concerned that the use of personal email accounts might
involve improper disclosure of personal information contrary to the
Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act
(British Columbia). In particular the storage of email outside of
Canada containing personal information of British Columbians could
violate section 30.1 of FIPPA. The use of email providers that mine
the content of the email for the purposes of
providing targeted advertising could involve a disclosure
outside of Canada in violation of section 33.1 of FIPPA.
The IPC made a number of recommendations for change:
Provide training on the use of
personal email accounts for government business, including ensuring
compliance with FIPPA's restrictions on storing or disclosing
personal information outside of Canada.
Ensure that all records relating to government business are
located in government controlled information management
Provide employees with sufficient technological resources to
ensure that they do not have a reason t use personal email in the
course of government business.
Ensure that government employees have mandatory privacy
training on the separation of government roles from roles they may
have in a political party.
The BC Liberal Party should ensure that employees and
volunteers have similar training regarding separation of
The issue of sharing between personal and professional email
accounts is particularly acute in the public sector where such
sharing may have the effect (however inadvertently) of undermining
record-keeping obligations and the public's rights to access
government information. However, the issue should be of equal
concern in the private sector where such sharing has the potential
to subvert information security policies, data retention programs
and access to personal information requests under privacy
legislation, and complicate the process of collecting and
preserving documents in litigation.
Dentons is a global firm driven to provide you with the
competitive edge in an increasingly complex and interconnected
marketplace. We were formed by the March 2013 combination of
international law firm Salans LLP, Canadian law firm Fraser Milner
Casgrain LLP (FMC) and international law firm SNR Denton.
Dentons is built on the solid foundations of three highly
regarded law firms. Each built its outstanding reputation and
valued clientele by responding to the local, regional and national
needs of a broad spectrum of clients of all sizes –
individuals; entrepreneurs; small businesses and start-ups; local,
regional and national governments and government agencies; and
mid-sized and larger private and public corporations, including
international and global entities.
Now clients benefit from more than 2,500 lawyers and
professionals in 79 locations in 52 countries across Africa, Asia
Pacific, Canada, Central Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Russia and
the CIS, the UK and the US who are committed to challenging the
status quo to offer creative, actionable business and legal
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances. Specific Questions relating to
this article should be addressed directly to the author.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).