Collection, Use and Disclosure of Personal Information

 Collection, Use and Disclosure of Personal Information (PDF, 278 KB)

In June 2006, Ontario universities were brought under the provincial Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). FIPPA sets out rules for the collection, use and disclosure of personal information. This fact sheet outlines the basic requirements to assist Queen’s employees understand their responsibilities for handling personal information in a privacy-protective manner.

What is personal information?

Personal information is anything that can be used to identify someone, including their:

  • race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status
  • educational, medical, psychiatric, psychological, criminal, or employment history
  • financial transactions
  • name, address, email address, telephone number, fingerprints, or blood type
  • identifying number (SIN, student ID, employment ID), symbol, or other particular assigned to them
  • personal opinions or views
  • correspondence that is confidential, even if only implicitly
  • another’s views or opinions about them
  • pictures, audio, or video recordings of them
  • anything else that could be used to identify them

Personal information is NOT:

  • information about someone who has been deceased for more than 30 years
  • information about a corporation
  • a name, title, or contact information that identifies someone in their business, professional, or official capacity, even if they conduct their business from home

Collection of Personal Information

Normally, personal information is collected directly from the individual to whom it relates. Any time the University collects personal information we must provide a notice of collection, which must include:

  • the legal authority for the collection (i.e., Queen’s University Royal Charter of 1841, as amended)
  • the principal purposes for which the personal information is intended to be used
  • contact information of a University official who can answer questions about the collection

An extensive notice of collection has been developed to cover most situation where personal information is collected.

For situations not covered by the standard notice, include the following text, customized as appropriate, as a footer on a paper form, or in a prominent place on a website:

Personal information is collected under the authority of the Queen’s University Royal Charter, 1841, as amended, and will be used for educational, administrative and statistical purposes. Questions regarding the collection or use of this personal information should be directed to [Title, Address, Telephone Number, (Email)]

Units may wish to be more explicit as to the purpose of the collection, and the manner in which the personal information will be retained and disposed of. The Records Management and Privacy Office can work with units to develop a specific notice of collection.

Use of Personal Information

Personal information may be used for the purpose for which it was collected or a consistent purpose.

Personal information in alumni records may be used where reasonably necessary for fundraising under specific conditions as outlined in the Act.

We must make reasonable efforts to ensure personal information used is accurate and up-to-date. Individuals have a right to request correction of their personal information in a record if they believe there is an error or omission.

Disclosure of Personal Information

Normally we disclose personal information to the individual to whom it pertains. However, their personal information may be disclosed to someone other than the individual about whom it pertains in limited circumstances such as:

  • Where an individual has consented to the disclosure
  • In compelling circumstances affecting health or safety of an individual
  • Where information is collected to create a record to be available to the general public (e.g., convocation roll)
  • For a research purpose, where specific conditions are met, with a research agreement
  • In compliance with legislation or an agreement
  • For law enforcement investigations and proceedings
  • In compassionate circumstances
  • To an agent or other representative authorized by the individual to make inquiries on their behalf

Disclosure of personal information within Queen’s

FIPPA was not meant to prevent employees from doing their jobs. Personal information may be disclosed to a Queen’s employee, or to a consultant or agent, who needs the record in the performance of duties and where the disclosure is necessary and proper in the discharge of the University’s functions.