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Federal Government Releases Proposed Amendments to Personal Information Protection

Presentation of proposed amendments by the Canadian federal government to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and its significance

On May 25, 2010, the federal government introduced proposed amendments to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) that will, if passed, affect the way that certain employers, including banks, telecommunication companies and airlines, handle personal information about their employees. These proposed amendments bring much needed clarity to the application of PIPEDA in the employment context.

The proposed amendments would exclude the business contact information of employees from the personal information protection rules in PIPEDA where this information is collected, used or disclosed by an organization "solely for the purpose of communicating or facilitating communication with the individual in relation to their employment, business or profession." In addition, a new section makes it clear that a federal work, undertaking or business may collect, use and disclose personal information without the consent of the individual if "the collection, use or disclosure is necessary to establish, manage or terminate an employment relationship," and the organization "has informed the individual that the personal information will be or may be collected, used and disclosed for those purposes." The amendments also allow organizations to collect, use and disclose personal information, without the knowledge or consent of the individual if "the information was produced by the individual in the course of their employment, business or profession and the collection is consistent with the purposes for which the information was produced." Another section further clarifies that an organization may use and disclose employee personal information for purposes other than those for which it was collected in the context of a business transaction.

The proposed amendments have been tabled for first reading and are expected to move quickly through second reading to a parliamentary committee for consideration.

For more information on the proposed amendments to PIPEDA, please see Heenan Blaikie's "Bill C-29 Preliminary Overview" (pdf).