Earlier this month, the Alberta Information and Privacy
Commissioner, Jill Clayton, published the second instalment of her submissions with
respect to the review of the Alberta Freedom of Information and
Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). This second instalment involves
technical suggestions regarding amendments to FIPPA.
One issue the Commissioner focused attention on was the
application of privacy legislation to non-profit organizations,
particularly when information is shared between public bodies and
those non-profits. The Commissioner wrote:
There is an increasing movement towards
citizen-centred service delivery involving
cross‐sectoral partners (public, private and health
sectors). I am concerned that the personal information
of Albertans may not be protected in situations where one
of the partners is a non‐profit organization that is not
subject to privacy legislation.
Only certain non-profit organizations in Alberta are subject to
the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) when they are
collecting, using or disclosing personal information in connection
with a commercial activity. The Commissioner recommends that PIPA
be amended to apply to all non-profits.
In the meantime, however, the Commissioner recommends that when
non-profits are engaged in cross-sectoral activities with public
bodies subject to FIPPA, the public body should be accountable for
the collection, use, disclosure and protection of personal
This is an intriguing suggestion. On the one hand, it could
assist in lawful information sharing between the non-profit and the
public body, while ensuring that there is accountability
irrespective of where the information resides.
On the other hand, it could result in complicating these
cross-sectoral partnerships as a result of the purpose limitation
provisions of section 33 of FIPPA. Section 33 of FIPPA prohibits
public bodies from collecting personal information unless it is
expressly authorized by legislation, it is for law enforcement, or
it "relates directly to and is necessary for an operating
program or activity of the public body". Any amendment that
would make a public body accountable for the information collection
activities of the non-profit must be drafted carefully to avoid
having the effect of limiting the legitimate collection, use,
retention and disclosure activities of the non-profit in that
information, which may be different and broader than those of the
public body and which could be part of the reason for the
cross-sectoral partnership in the first place.
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