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Canada Fundraising Groups to Develop Further Privacy Guidance

WASHINGTON (AFP eWire - Jan. 12, 2004) - A coalition of fundraising groups and associations, including AFP, will be working together to develop materials to help charities comply with the growing number of privacy bills in Canada.

On Jan. 1, 2004, the final phase of the federal privacy legislation - the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, or PIPEDA - came into force. Charities continue to have questions about this act, as well as about provincial privacy legislation that may also affect charitable fundraising.

Provincial legislation that is considered 'substantially similar' to PIPEDA by the privacy commissioner of Canada will take precedence over and supercede PIPEDA. However, in provinces where the legislation is not considered 'substantially similar,' charities must comply with both PIPEDA and the provincial legislation.

So far, only Quebec has privacy laws that are considered 'substantially similar.' However, British Columbia and Alberta both have privacy laws that recently went into force on Jan. 1, 2004, and both are petitioning to the privacy commissioner to have their laws considered 'substantially similar' to PIPEDA.

The coalition of fundraising groups (including AFP, the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy, the Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement, the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy and others) will be developing the following information:

  • 1) Answers to commonly asked questions, including links to helpful Internet sites
  • 2) A broad overview of the impact of different legislation across Canada, including a possible charter challenge

The organizations have already developed one document to help fundraisers and charities begin to think about privacy concerns and comply with the requirements of PIPEDA. The document, 'Privacy 101,' is available on the AFP website. (Please note that you will need Adobe Acrobat to open this file.)

The second document should be available within a couple of weeks and will be featured in an upcoming edition of AFP eWire. However, members should bear in mind that the profession is still in the beginning steps of understanding and complying with the legislation. The information should not be considered exhaustive or legal advice.

'One of the critical issues is that no one, not even the federal government, completely understands how PIPEDA will ultimately work out and what will ultimately be considered best practice,' said Susan Mullin, CFRE, chair of AFP's privacy task force. 'There's just so many details, and then add in the provincial legislation, and you can see it will be awhile until we can really get our arms around the entire issue. But we are committed to providing the best guidance we can to members.'

Notice on British Columbia Privacy Legislation

In last week's eWire, AFP noted that neither the Alberta nor British Columbia provincial privacy legislation 'has a major impact on charitable fundraising.' In actuality, it should be noted that the British Columbia legislation is much more restrictive than PIPEDA.

However, the accompanying regulations were written very broadly and tended to negate most of the potential burdens that the legislation might have applied. Thus, the net effect is that fundraising organizations in British Columbia will not be restricted from continuing to engage in ethically based prospect research using standard public information sources without any major burdens.

The document being prepared (see above) will address the British Columbia and all other provincial legislation.

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