All Provinces and Territories Protect Some Rights to Privacy

In general there are three categories of privacy that are protected by law:

  1. spatial privacy,
  2. bodily privacy, and
  3. informational privacy.

Spatial privacy is most often affected by laws limiting the police’s ability to search premises; bodily privacy most often deals with our right to control what is done with our bodies; informational privacy is about our rights to control or consent to how our information is handled by others. It is important to understand that this right to informational privacy is limited and balanced against the needs of organizations and governments to collect, use and disclose information for reasonable purposes. The focus of this site is primarily on informational privacy.

The laws protecting these various types of privacy rights range from the very general to the very specific. We deal in more detail with the specific legal requirements elsewhere on this site. In this section we will focus on the three broadest sources of privacy protection:

  1. federal and provincial legislation,
  2. common law, and
  3. constitutional law.

One more concept is important and that is the notion of “Fair Information Practices.” Most privacy laws in Canada are based on the Fair Information Practices – core privacy principles which are recognized, and form the basis of privacy laws, in many countries around the world. Fair Information Practices identify the broad rights individuals should have, and the broad responsibilities organizations take on when they collect, use and disclose personal information.