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Personal Information and Privacy

While PROBUS is a non-political, non-sectarian, non-profit series of autonomous clubs with no commercial agenda, it does exist as an organization dedicated to providing fellowship and learning opportunities for its members. Becoming (and being a member) of PROBUS should be a relaxed endeavour with no added burdens that would make being a member in any way onerous.

The nature of a PROBUS club and its activities are such that it requires a minimal amount of in formation of its members to function. Such information, name, address, phone number, is generally in the public domain and not considered sensitive information by government legislation. Of course, such information of those in sensitive positions, law enforcement, national security, etc., would be exceptional.

The Privacy Act of Canada applies only to government agencies. PIPEDA, Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, applies only to organizations that engage in commercial activity. Neither act applies to PROBUS. There is no federal act that applies to non-commercial organizations such as PROBUS. Even as a guide, PIPEDA makes a distinction between public domain and sensitive information. Information beyond name, address, and phone number begins to encroach upon one’s sensitive information. British Columbia, Alberta, and Quebec do have privacy legislation that apparently conforms to PIPEDA. In all cases the underlying principle is the reasonable use of information required for the proper function of an organization. Again these are commercial organizations.

Basically, the government acts pertinent to privacy of information do not apply to a non-commercial, non-profit organization that collects “non-sensitive information”, i.e., name, address, and phone number. E-mail addresses are becoming the norm in contacting members. As well, e-mail addresses are very much in the public domain.

PROBUS Canada collects only basic contact information. The request for such information is part of the application for accreditation and is part of the Renewal Form where the stated use is noted. The information, necessarily, is published on the PROBUS Website and in the hardcopy PROBUS Membership Directory. While there is implied consent when information is given upon request, information is not published at the request of an individual to have his/her information withheld, all within the spirit of courtesy, reasonableness, and what would be compliance with PIPEDA if the Act applied to PROBUS which it does not.

PROBUS Canada, in the spirit of individual club autonomy, does not direct or recommend the following items meant for consideration with regard to privacy of information. PROBUS Clubs, for the functioning of the club, collect basic contact information on the club Membership Application Form.No waiver is necessary, but certainly an option. Should a club feel it wants information beyond basic contact information, it could request an optional “Personal Profile” from its members.

Appointing a “Privacy Officer” is likely an extraordinary measure, but a strong, courteous, respectful regard for a member’s right to privacy including his/her basic information, medical details, professional details, etc., is extremely important, not only in the collection of information, but also in announcements and meeting discussions.