What is Alberta’s PIPA all about?

Alberta’s Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) of 2009 is nothing like the Protect IP Act (PIPA) that folks in the United States railed against in January 2012. Some may recall that Wikipedia, along with several other websites, “went black” on Jan.18, 2012, to express its disapproval of not only PIPA but also its companion the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

Alberta’s version of PIPA is all about making businesses more open with consumers regarding the consumers’ personal information. This new act “makes a number of amendments designed to foster openness and accountability in private-sector organizations with respect to the use of service providers outside Canada,” according to an information sheet that can you can find here.

When you think about Alberta’s PIPA, think about Google’s privacy policy in which the company tells you that it shares user information with various and sundry third-parties for the purpose of processing information, etc. Well, in Alberta, if a business shares information with vendors or advertisers or outsourced data processors or whatever, the business’ leaders must make sure that the consumers know how the business will use their personal information.

For example, section 13(1) of the act states that before or at the time of collecting personal information directly from someone, an organization must notify that person in writing or orally why the information is being collected and the name or position name or title of anyone who is able to answer, on behalf of the organization, the person’s questions about the collection.”

On the other hand, an organization does not have to let someone know about data being collected from another person. So, if you don’t pay your rent, your landlord can collect personal information about you from your neighbor without notifying you first or getting your permission.

The act has several other sections that Alberta denizens should become familiar with. It’s always good to know your rights, especially when it comes to divulging personal information.