With the increased emphasis on the freedom of information and protection of privacy, the Ontario Genealogical Society became concerned that the policy the Society followed was not as comprehensive as it could be.
The Society decided to approach Dr. Margaret Ann Wilkinson, a professor in the Faculty of Law at Western University in London, Ontario for her assistance in this project. Dr. Wilkinson’s doctoral dissertation was on personal data protection. She has written a number of articles for Families as well as the publication Genealogy and the Law in Canada from Dundurn Press.
Dr. Wilkinson reviewed the various types of information with which the Society is involved and she decided to turn the work over to the Community Legal Services, a study group at Western Law, for their analysis and recommendation.
After considerable consultation between OGS and Community Legal Services, OGS will be following the recommendations derived from this consultation in the provision of information that OGS has in its possession.
"Personal Information” means information about an identifiable individual. Personal information may include but is not limited to information collected from: Ontario Archive indexes, census records, religion and education history, marital status, newspaper notices, death records and cemetery indexes.
"Client” means a person who pays for the goods or services offered by OGS.
"Expressed Consent” means consent which is communicated in either verbal or written form. The Client must be able to clearly communicate its consent in an unequivocal form.
"Implied Consent” means consent that can be reasonably inferred from the Client's action or inaction.
In 2000, the federal government of Canada enacted The Protection of Personal Information and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). Effective January 1, 2004 all organizations that collect, use or disclose personal information in the course of their commercial activities are subject to PIPEDA or substantially similar provincial legislation.
As of today, in Ontario, there is no legislation similar to PIPEDA. Consequently, The Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS) shall follow the Privacy Standards established by PIPEDA as they apply to non-profit organizations which are engaged in commercial activities. PIPEDA is modeled after the Canadian Standards Association Model Code for the Protection of Personal Information (CSA Code). Accordingly, the ten principles of fair information practices identified by the CSA Code, have been incorporated by the OGS and represent the minimum requirements for the protection of personal information collected, used and disclosed from clients of the OGS.
In addition, it is understood that the only person who can contest the information being released is the person identified by the information. A person cannot file a complaint about information being released on some other person regardless of the relationship they have with the other person.
Any inquiries regarding this policy may be directed to the following:
Ontario Genealogical Society
40 Orchard View Blvd, Suite 102
Toronto ON, M4R 1B9
2. IDENTIFYING PURPOSES
2.1 OGS will make reasonable efforts to ensure that Clients understand, and know how their personal information will be used. OGS will identify the purposes for which personal information is collected at or before the time of collection to the individual from whom the personal information is collected. OGS will endeavour to identify such purposes in writing wherever possible. In certain circumstances identification may also be provided orally: for example, during collection of personal information through personal interviews.
2.2 If personal information is to be used for a purpose not previously identified, the new purpose will be identified prior to the use of such information. However, if the new purpose is required by law, the consent given by the Client before or at the time of collection can be used for that purpose.
2.3 The purposes for which personal information of Clients is collected may include, but is not limited to:
- processing commercial transactions;
- conducting genealogical research;
- developing and maintaining a membership database; and,
- communicating with clients.
3.1 The knowledge and consent of Clients is required for the collection, use, or disclosure of personal information. Clients’ expressed consent will be obtained before or at the time of collecting personal information. Once expressed consent has been obtained from the Client, OGS has the Client's implied consent to collect or receive any supplementary information necessary to fulfill the same purpose.
3.2 Consent shall be acquired before or at the moment of collection, not only for the process of collection itself but for the subsequent use and disclosure of that information. Notwithstanding, expressed consent may be acquired later if, and only if, the information is going to be used or disclosed for secondary purposes.
3.3 OGS may collect, use or disclose personal information without expressed or implied consent in exceptional circumstances. For example, when such collection, use and disclosure is permitted or required by law.
3.4 Disclosure of identifying information in records held by The Ontario Genealogical Society
OGS follows the guidelines laid out by PIPEDA and Ontario’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) to determine when personal information becomes open to the public.
Accordingly, OGS will function under the following procedure:
- Any information or document generated more than 100 years prior to the current year is "open" for distribution regardless if the person is alive or not.
- If the death of a person is proved to have occurred more than 30 years prior to the current year, the information is “open” for distribution.
- If there is no proof of death but there is proof of birth more than 96 years prior to the current year, the information is “open” for distribution. If the birth was less than 96 years prior to the current year, the information may not be distributed. (This is based upon the life expectancy tables provided by Statistics Canada in order to minimize the possibility of providing information on a living person).
- If there is no proof of death or birth, the information may not be distributed.
- If the information concerning the person of interest is available via a public forum (e.g. newspaper obituary, cemetery marker, etc.) the information is considered public and may be released. Information on other people which is detailed in the same information package (i.e. in the obituary or on the cemetery marker) is considered “open” and is available for distribution regardless if they comply with the above requirements or not. No information other than that which is provided in the public forum is to be released regarding those identified in that forum unless these people fall into the requirements above.
4. LIMITING COLLECTION
OGS will limit the collection of personal information to that which is necessary for the purposes that have been identified to the Client.
5. USE, DISCLOSURE, TRANSFER AND RETENTION OF PERSONAL INFORMATION
5.1 OGS will use personal information only for those purposes to which the Client has consented.
5.2 OGS will limit the disclosure of information only to those responsible to carry out the purpose for which the information was collected. This includes OGS personnel, Branches and Special Interest Groups all over Ontario.
5.3 Personal information will only be disclosed to third parties with express consent from the Client, unless the transfer is simply for processing purposes and the third party only uses the information for the purposes for which it was transferred.
5.4 OGS may disclose personal information to third parties without consent when:
- required by law;
- a government agency or department is requesting the information;
- a law enforcement agency is processing a civil or criminal investigation; or,
- a subpoena, a warrant or an order has been made by a court or other body with appropriate jurisdiction.
5.5 In addition, OGS may disclose personal information without consent when information is no longer considered personal information and becomes public (as described in Section 3.4).
5.6 Personal information will be retained only as long as it is required given the purpose for which it was collected, and for such periods of time as may be prescribed by applicable laws and regulations.
OGS will keep personal information as accurate, current and complete as necessary for the purposes for which it was collected, used, retained and disclosed. Clients are requested to notify OGS of any change in their personal information
7.1 OGS will use all appropriate and reasonable measures to assure the security of all personal information collected.
7.3 When personal information is transferred to a third party, OGS will require from the third party to provide safety measures consistent with these guidelines.
8. ACCESS TO INFORMATION
8.1 Clients are allowed to review or verify what personal information is being held by the OGS, or to whom that information has been disclosed. Clients requesting access are required to contact OGS in writing. OGS will respond promptly.
8.2 Clients have the right to challenge the accuracy and completeness of their own personal information and may request to have it amended as appropriate. OGS will make the necessary adjustment promptly.
9. CHALLENGE OF COMPLIANCE
9.1 Clients concerned about OGS' personal information handling practices are encouraged to communicate their concerns to OGS personnel. OGS will investigate and respond to the challenge promptly. OGS will endeavour to take all necessary measures to ensure compliance with all applicable laws.
9.2 If the Client is dissatisfied with the action taken by the OGS, the Client may bring a complaint to the Federal Privacy Commissioner at the address below:
The Privacy Commissioner of Canada
112 Kent Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1H3
Email address: www.privcom.gc.ca
10. QUESTIONS/ACCESS REQUEST/COMPLAINT
Request for access to information, or to make complaints, are to be made in writing and sent to the address below:
40 Orchard View Blvd, suite 102
Toronto , ON M4R 1B9