The Ten Principles for Privacy of Personal Information

Both the provincial act, Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 (PHIPA), and the federal act, Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), require practitioners or their employers to develop a Privacy and Access Code describing how they collect, use and disclose personal information. The Privacy and Access Code must adhere to the ten principles that have been adopted internationally to describe privacy duties. There is flexibility in how to achieve the intent of the principles. However, failing to do so will leave a dietitian open to investigation and sanction by either the Ontario or federal information and privacy commissioners.

Principle 1 - Accountability

An organization is responsible for personal information under its control. It must appoint someone to be accountable for its compliance with these fair information principles.

Principle 2 - Identifying Purposes

The purposes for which personal information is being collected must be identified by the organization before or at the time of collection.

Principle 3 - Consent

The knowledge and consent of an individual are required for the collection, use, or disclosure of personal information, except where inappropriate.

Principle 4 - Limiting Collection

The collection of personal information must be limited to that which is needed for the purposes identified by the organization. Information must be collected by fair and lawful means.

Principle 5 - Limiting Use, Disclosure, and Retention

Unless an individual consents otherwise or it is required by law, personal information can only be used or disclosed for the purposes for which it was collected. Personal information must only be kept as long as required to serve those purposes.

Principle 6 - Accuracy

Personal information must be as accurate, complete, and up-to-date as possible in order to properly satisfy the purposes for which it is to be used.

Principle 7 - Safeguards

Personal information must be protected by appropriate security relative to the sensitivity of the information.

Principle 8 - Openness

An organization must make detailed information about its policies and practices relating to the management of personal information publicly and readily available.

Principle 9 - Individual Access

Upon request, an individual must be informed of the existence, use, and disclosure of their personal information and be given access to that information. An individual must be able to challenge the accuracy and completeness of the information and can have it amended as appropriate.

Principle 10 - Challenging Compliance

An individual can challenge an organization’s compliance with the above principles. Their challenge should be addressed to the person accountable for the organization’s compliance with PIPEDA, usually their Chief Privacy Officer.