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Transmittal of information by fax

Although we discourage institutions from sending personal information by fax, we realize that they are used regularly by institutions for the purposes of expediency in getting information to its destination.

One of our investigations uncovered a problem with the manner in which a Government institution was keeping a record of the personal information it was sending by fax. Fax cover sheets indicated the number of pages sent, to whom, by whom and on what date, but the institution could not identify, after the fact, which specific documents or pages had been transmitted. In other cases, the institution was not able to identify what it had received by fax from other areas in the institution.

It is imperative that institutions keep a record of the use and disclosure of personal information under their control. Except in limited circumstances, individuals have the right to know which documents containing their personal information are sent to whom and why they are disclosed.

A solution to this problem is to list the documents sent or received on the transmittal cover sheet itself. This will ensure transparency, document the flow of information and assist us in our investigations.

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