Deputizing the Private Sector

Requiring the Collection of Personal Information by Non-Government Entities for Law Enforcement or Other Purposes

An independent research report commissioned by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner

Principal authors: Robert Gellman, Stephanie Perrin and Jennifer Barrigar

This paper looks into the collection of personal information by non-government entities (typically a private sector company) for disclosure to and use by government or law enforcement. The choice of who collects personal information has consequences for the privacy rights of individuals.

Using examples of bylaws or legislation developed in Canada and elsewhere, the authors provide advice for assessing the collection decisions made by legislators and policymakers. Specifically, the authors identify aspects that matter to privacy (p. 19) and ideas for evaluation of personal information collection choices (p. 23).

The examples of personal information collection decisions analyzed include:

  • Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada
  • Bar patrons
  • Narcotics and over-the-counter medications
  • Video surveillance cameras
  • Pawn shops and second-hand stores
  • School vaccinations
  • Highway travel
  • Communications data retention, primarily phone calls, emails or other electronic communications.

 Independent Research Deputizing Private Sector Infographic Jul2016 (1)