The amendments to PIPA directly address the constitutional issue
in the context of the expressive activities of unions in relation
to a labour relations dispute. The collection, use, and disclosure
of personal information by trade unions remain subject to PIPA, but
certain exemptions to consent now apply in that context.
PIPA now permits a trade union to collect, use and disclose
personal information about an individual without consent where,
subject to any additional requirements that may be imposed by
The purpose is to inform or persuade the public about a
"matter of significant public interest or importance relating
to a labour relations dispute" involving the trade union;
The collection, use or disclosure is reasonably necessary for
that purpose; and
It is reasonable to collect the personal information without
consent for that purpose, taking into consideration all relevant
circumstances, including the nature and sensitivity of the
Going forward, interpretation by the courts of what is
considered a "matter of significant public interest or
importance" and the weight afforded to the "nature and
sensitivity" of personal information will be closely
The amendments to PIPA are narrowly prescribed to trade unions,
and do not attempt to tackle broader considerations of how freedom
of expression should be balanced against the privacy interests of
individuals in other contexts. In terms of their broader effect,
they are more a tweak to PIPA rather than a revamp. However, 2015
is to see the first step towards what may result in broader
changes, with PIPA due for a comprehensive review by a special
committee of the Legislative Assembly that must commence by July 1,
2015. A final report to the Legislative Assembly, due within 18
months following the start of the review, may include
recommendations for amendments to PIPA or any other enactment.
This review provides an opportunity for lawmakers
to reflect further upon how the constitutional right to
freedom of expression should be balanced against privacy
interests even outside the labour disputes context.
Broader changes to PIPA to consider these constitutional
protections may still be seen in the future.
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