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Alberta, BC Charities Exempt From Federal Privacy Law

(Nov. 7, 2004) The Canadian government announced on Wednesday, Nov. 3, that the federal privacy law - the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, or PIPEDA - would no longer apply to organizations, including charities, in Alberta and British Columbia.

Both Alberta and British Columbia have provincial privacy laws that have been declared 'substantially similar' to the federal PIPEDA law by the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Under the arrangement created by PIPEDA, once a province has privacy laws that are 'substantially similar' to the federal law, the provincial law will supercede.

However, PIPEDA will continue to apply in those two provinces to the collection, use and disclosure of personal information related to the operations of a federal work, undertaking or business (e.g. banks, airlines, telecommunications companies) in both provinces, as well as to the cross-border collection, use and release of personal information.

Alberta and British Columbia join Quebec as the only provinces to have privacy laws that have been declared 'substantially similar' to PIPEDA. AFP worked in both provinces to ensure that their privacy laws had as little impact as possible upon legitimate charitable fundraising.

PIPEDA came into full effect January 1, 2004. It applies to all personal information collected, used or disclosed by private sector organizations in the course of commercial activity. Because of the law's focus on commercial activities, most charitable fundraising activities are not affected by it. Some marketing activities, including sales, may fall under PIPEDA's regulation.

For a complete discussion of PIPEDA's impact on charities and charitable fundraising, individuals can refer to the guidance paper developed by AFP and other fundraising organizations.

For more information on PIPEDA, individuals can visit Industry Canada's website. Additional materials on compliance can be found at the Office of the Privacy Commissioner's website.

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