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Ontario Government Agrees To Implied Consent In Privacy Bill

OTTAWA (AFP eWire - Feb. 17, 2004) - In response to efforts by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP) and other organizations, the Ontario government has decided to amend Bill 31, the Health Information Privacy Act, to allow limited transfer of basic individual contact information.

In its original form, Bill 31 would have prohibited health-related charities from collecting and using any personal information for fundraising purposes without obtaining explicit express consent from the individual. Implied consent mechanisms, such as a check-off box, would not have been allowed under the bill. Even such basic contact information as a person's name and address could not have been used for fundraising without express consent.

The government's amendment, included in full below, would allow a charity to use an individual's name and 'prescribed types of contact information' if implied consent had been obtained. Regulations for Bill 31 will detail what is included in the definition of 'contact information.'

AFP is pleased with the amendment and thanks the Ontario government for understanding the needs of charitable organizations to raise critical funds for the programs they operate. Both the Progressive Conservative and New Democratic Parties intended to introduce similar amendments before the government offered its change.

While the change is a positive step, AFP will continue to monitor the legislation and ensure that the final bill balances the privacy rights of individuals with the rights of charities to raise funds.

Following is the text of the amendment:

'Fundraising

31. (I) Subject to subsection (2), a health information custodian may collect, use or disclose personal health information about an individual for the purpose of fundraising activities only where,

a) the individual expressly consents; or

b) the individual consents by way of an implied consent and the information consists only of the individual's name and the prescribed types of contact information.

Requirements and restrictions

(2) The manner in which consent is obtained under subsection (I) and the resulting collection, use or disclosure of personal health information for the purpose of fundraising activities shall comply with the requirements and restrictions that are prescribed, if any.'

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