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City seeks privacy policy in dealing with the public

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
July 27th, 2018

The city’s privacy policy is going public.

A policy dealing with Nelsonite’s private information as gathered by the city in the course of doing business has been updated,

The policy stems from the gathering of information from individuals using city services, eliciting a need to protect the privacy and confidentiality in the collection, management and “retention of personal information and identifying how, what and when personal information is used.”

“This policy also provides guidance for employees of the city in the management of personal information that is collected by the city,” read a city staff report to council.

“It governs how we collect information and how we protect people’s privacy,” said Mayor Deb Kozak.

Coun. Anna Purcell wondered how the policy affected aggregated data that could be used for good — such as compiling statistics on poverty reduction — and for open data used for “smart” cities.

“I’m wondering if we are keeping either of those two things in mind when we are dealing with this,” she said, “or if it doesn’t leave the door open for aggregated data to be used by other parties.”

City director of corporate services Frances Long said the policy would be needed in all cases.

“This policy talks about our obligation to protect privacy. Open data is definitely a goal in all local governments but it’s a very big project, and expensive, so it’s not something taken lightly.

“It’s a great goal but do we have the resources to do that in the city, I don’t know. That would have to be a council priority set.”

It’s not as if the city was callous in its usage of information in the past. Any personal information that was provided to the city has always been collected, used and disclosed in accordance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

4. Use and Disclosure of Personal Information

  • 4.1 The city will only use or disclose an individual’s personal information where necessary to fulfill the purposes identified at the time of collection.
  • 4.2 The city will not use or disclose individual personal information for any additional purposes unless the city obtains consent to do so.
  • 4.3 The city will not sell any lists or personal information to other parties.

“Information that is collected by the City of Nelson is obtained with permission and is used only for the purpose of administering city services, information sharing and statistical purposes,” the report noted.

— Source: City of Nelson

“The city does not use personal information for reasons other than those purposes disclosed to the individual at the time the information is shared by the individual.”

3. Consent

  • 3.1 The act deems that an individual has consented to the collection, use or disclosure of personal information about that individual if, at the time consent is deemed to be given, the purpose would be considered obvious to a reasonable person.

In such circumstances, the city will collect, use, disclose or retain personal information without obtaining a written or verbal consent to do so.

— Source: City of Nelson

The policy also identified a simplified, structured process for city staff to follow in the collection and use of personal information and in the case of a privacy breech.

7. Security of Personal Information

7.2 The city will protect the personal information it has gathered by maintaining reasonable safeguards that comply in all material respects with industry standards to guard personal information against unauthorized access, disclosure, loss, destruction or modification, including but not limited to:

  • usinglockedfilingcabinets;
  • physically securing offices where personal information is kept;
  • the use of ID’s, passwords, encryption, and firewalls for computer; and
  • restricting employee access to personal information as appropriate to the circumstances.

— Source: City of Nelson

 

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