The Alberta Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (“Commissioner”) recently considered whether it had jurisdiction to deal with a privacy complaint. The Complainant alleged that De Beers Canada Inc. collected his passport information in contravention of Alberta’s Personal Information Protection Act (“PIPA”).

The facts were relatively straightforward. The Complainant lived in Ontario and was hired by Memory Tree Video productions in Ontario as a subcontractor to provide television camera production services. The job required him to attend a De Beers diamond exploration site in northern Saskatchewan. Upon being hired, Memory Tree requested the Complainant’s passport information. When asked, he was told that De Beers needed this information and it was necessary in order to book the flight for him. This fact was disputed by a representative from De Beers. The Complainant provided the documentation but then filed a complaint with the Commissioner in Alberta.

In considering whether De Beers was subject to PIPA, the Commissioner noted that the company had its head office in Calgary. As such, when it collects, uses or discloses personal information within Alberta, it must comply with PIPA. However, if the information was collected outside of Alberta, PIPA would not apply. In such instances, either other provincial privacy legislation or the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, federal legislation that protects privacy interests, would apply.

The Commissioner concluded that the subject matter of the complaint did not take place within Alberta but within Ontario. As such, PIPA did not apply and the Commissioner did not have jurisdiction.

Like in any civil case, the Commissioner will assess whether they have jurisdiction over the individuals/companies involved in the dispute. It is important to identify the correct venue and legislation that applies to a specific case and appeal to the proper entity that maintains jurisdiction over the dispute. Failure to do so may be fatal to a privacy infringement claim.

See De Beers Canada Inc. (Re), 2019 CanLII 49751 (AB OIPC)


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