The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 2015 (“ATIPPA, 2015”) sets out how your municipality must protect your personal information. This includes when they can collect information, how they can use the information they collect, and when the information can be disclosed.
What is Personal Information?
Personal information is recorded information about an individual. It includes information such as name, address, phone number, race, age, opinions and other information.
Collection of Personal Information
Municipalities may collect your personal information for a number of purposes. Some examples include:
- Information collected for tax purposes
- Contact information for participants in recreational programs
- Applications for jobs
Municipalities should only collect information that is necessary for a specific a purpose.
Example: if you are applying for a building permit, it would be reasonable for the municipality to ask for information such as address, who owns the house, and whether the house is residential or commercial. However, they should not collect information that is not necessary or relevant, such as the work history or medical status of the person who owns the house.
Use of Personal Information
In general, information should only be used for the reason it was collected or a consistent purpose. This also means that your information should only be seen on an as-needed basis.
Example: If you apply for a job with a municipality, your resume should only be reviewed by those individuals involved in the hiring process.
Disclosure of Personal Information
ATIPPA, 2015 sets out the circumstances where your municipality may disclose your personal information. You can see section 68 for the full list of reasons why your information may be disclosed.
All municipalities are required to make certain information publicly available. This information includes the minutes of public meetings of council. These minutes may contain some information about individual residents, including the following:
- Names of individuals attending a public event, including the meeting;
- Names of individuals who have received an honour or award (unless the individual requests otherwise);
- Names and opinions of individuals who have made a presentation at a public meeting;
- Details of a contract with the town; or
- Names and other personal information if they are necessary and relevant to the discussion at hand.
Letters written to council may sometimes be tabled at public meetings. Any documents tabled at a public meeting become public documents. If you have any questions about whether a letter you write to council may be made public, contact the municipality to discuss this with them.
A privacy breach occurs any time information is accessed, collected, used or disclosed in contravention of ATIPPA, 2015. Some examples of privacy breaches include:
- A town employee sends a fax containing your personal information to the wrong number; or
- A town councillor sends an email containing your personal information to the wrong email address
Your municipality must inform you about any privacy breaches of your personal information that may create a risk of significant harm to you. The municipality must also report these breaches to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.
Complaints to Privacy Commissioner
You have the right to make a complaint to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner if you believe your personal information has been breached:
Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner
2 Canada Drive
P.O. Box 13004, Stn. A
St. John’s, NL A1B 3V8
Telephone: (709) 729-6309
Facsimile: (709) 729-6500