Terri-Jane Yuzda

APEGGA Reviews Privacy Policies in Response to New Provincial Legislation


APEGGA privacy policies will ensure that the handling of member information complies with new provincial legislation, said Deputy Registrar Al Schuld, P.Eng.

“We’re confident that most or all of what APEGGA does with personal information is acceptable under the new Personal Information Privacy Act. What we’re doing now is clearly outlining what our practices are, so members can be assured that their information is not improperly collected or used,” said Mr. Schuld.

“We’re also reviewing all of our information and data collection policies, to find out whether we need to change any of them.”

The Alberta Legislature’s committee-of-the-whole passed the Personal Information Privacy Act in early December, which means APEGGA will be legislated provincially for privacy rather than under the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Document Act. Both acts take effect Jan. 1, 2004.

Mr. Schuld said protection of privacy has always been an APEGGA priority. The Association’s regulatory roles, however, and its obligation to protect the public and maintain professionalism, require a certain amount of information collection and sharing. For example, the public needs enough registration list information to confirm members are APEGGA-regulated professionals. And when someone complains about member conduct, APEGGA has to investigate.

“Certain activities must take place involving personal information. These are intrinsic to the process of self-regulation, and they allow members to enjoy the benefits and meet the obligations of professionalism,” said Mr. Schuld, APEGGA’s privacy officer. “The key here is to strike a balance between each member’s expectation of privacy and each member’s expectation that APEGGA maintain the quality of the professions.”

APEGGA’s member services aren’t regulatory and do involve some information sharing. However, that sharing is limited to business contact information, as provided by members.

As The PEGG went to press, APEGGA was finalizing a personal information code and a separate website privacy policy. Watch www.apegga.org for updates and the final versions of the two documents.

The draft version of the code is built upon 10 major tenets:

• Accountability
• Identifying purpose
• Consent
• Limiting Collection
• Limiting Use, Disclosure and Retention
• Accuracy
• Safeguards
• Openness
• Individual Access
• Challenging Compliance (to privacy legislation)

The website policy will fall in line with the privacy code. APEGGA isn’t required to have a separate privacy policy for the site, but Mr. Schuld said web privacy is on the minds of many members because of the volume of electronic information sharing that occurs these days. Besides, a website policy is in the spirit of the Personal Information Protection Act.

Although it appears little will change in the way APEGGA conducts day-to-day work, Mr. Schuld said the exercise of creating and publicizing the policies is valuable in itself. “These documents will demonstrate that what we do is above-the-board and necessary, and that there is recourse for members when they disagree with our privacy actions. We need to be as transparent as possible in this area and all other areas of our work.”

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