"Personal Information", as specified in PIPEDA, is as follows: information about an identifiable individual, but does not include the name, title or business address or telephone number of an employee of an organization.
The law gives individuals the right to
The law requires organizations to
Though the Act requires that affected organizations comply with the CSA Model Code for the Protection of Personal Information, there are a number of exceptions to Code where information can be collected, used and disclosed without the consent of the individual. Examples include for investigations related to law enforcement or in the event of an emergency. There are also exceptions to the general rule that an individual shall be given access to his or her personal information.
The implementation of PIPEDA occurred in three stages. Starting in 2001, the law applied to federally regulated industries (such as airlines, banking and broadcasting). In 2002 the law was expanded to include the health sector. Finally in 2004, any organization that collects personal information in the course of commercial activity was covered by PIPEDA, except in provinces that have "substantially similar" privacy laws. Four provincial privacy laws have been declared by the federal Governor in Council to be substantially similar to PIPEDA:
PIPEDA does not create an automatic right to sue for violations of the law's obligations. Instead, PIPEDA follows an ombudsman model in which complaints are taken to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. The Commissioner is required to investigate the complaint and to produce a report at its conclusion. The report is not binding on the parties, but is more of a recommendation. The Commissioner does not have any powers to order compliance, award damages or levy penalties. The organization complained about does not have to follow the recommendations. The complainant, with the report in hand, can then take the matter to the Federal Court of Canada. The responding organization cannot take the matter to the Courts, because the report is not a decision and PIPEDA does not explicitly grant the responding organization the right to do so.
PIPEDA provides, at section 14, the complainant the right to apply to the Federal Court of Canada for a hearing with respect to the subject matter of the complaint. The Court has the power to order the organization to correct its practices, to publicise the steps it will take to correct its practices and to award damages.