Canada’s Information and Privacy Commissioners and Ombudspersons have called on all levels of government to protect and promote privacy and access to information rights when embarking on information sharing initiatives aimed at improving government services.
In a joint resolution, privacy and information regulators recognized information sharing initiatives are intended to more easily facilitate the sharing of personal information to better serve citizens in the delivery of social programs, community safety, research, health and education. Information sharing encompasses a number of activities meant to enable more than one agency to access, use and disclose personal information.
Canada’s information and privacy guardians noted significant privacy and access to information implications for information sharing initiatives, and urged governments to consider certain actions when contemplating such initiatives.
These include such actions as:
- Being open and transparent about how information sharing initiatives will be implemented;
- Being proactive by undertaking assessments to help identify possible privacy risks at the outset; and
- Acting in an accountable manner by implementing information sharing initiatives that will, for example, share the least amount of information needed to satisfy the goals of the initiative and implementing all reasonable and necessary safeguards.