The Privacy Act legislation and regulations
About this legislation
The Privacy Act governs how the federal government handles personal information that it collects, uses or discloses from the general public and its own employees.
The Act gives all individuals, whether they are inside or outside Canada, the right to request access to their personal information held by federal government institutions and request corrections to it.
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada oversees compliance with the Act.
Individuals may complain to us about any issue described in section 29 of the Act. Some examples are:
- being denied access to your personal information
- receiving information that is not in the requested official language of Canada
- experiencing delays in receiving information
The Commissioner may also personally initiate a complaint against a federal institution or organization covered by the Act.
Related acts and legislation
- Investigations into federal institutions
- OPC involvement in Privacy Act judicial proceedings
- Summaries of leading Privacy Act Federal Court cases
- Privacy Act compliance help (for government institutions)
- The Privacy Act and public interest disclosures
- Privacy Impact Assessments
- Guidelines for the use of video surveillance of public places by police and law enforcement authorities
- Personal information retention and disposal: Principles and best practices
- What to expect during a complaint investigation under the Privacy Act (for complainants)
Read the legislation
Privacy Act - R.S.C., 1985, c. P-21
This is an Act to extend the present laws of Canada that protect the privacy of individuals and that provide individuals with a right of access to personal information about themselves.
Read the full version of the Privacy Act (last amended 2018-12-13).
Regulations under this Act
- Privacy Regulations (SOR/83-508)
- Designating the Minister of Justice and the President of the Treasury Board as Ministers for Purposes of Certain Sections of the Act (SI/83-109)
- Privacy Act Heads of Government Institutions Designation Order (SI/83-114)
- Privacy Act Extension Order No. 1 (SOR/83-553)
- Exempt Personal Information Bank Order, No. 5 (ND) (SOR/85-38)
- Privacy Act Extension Order, No. 2 (SOR/89-206)
- Exempt Personal Information Bank Order, No. 13 (RCMP) (SOR/90-149)
- Exempt Personal Information Bank Order, No. 14 (CSIS) (SOR/92-688)
- Exempt Personal Information Bank Order, No. 25 (RCMP) (SOR/93-272)
- Privacy Act extension order, No. 3 (SOR/2021-174)
Legislative change and review
The Act was introduced in 1983 and has not been substantially updated since then.
The OPC contributes to the reviews and makes recommendations on the Privacy Act. The OPC has continually urged the Government to update the Act to ensure that it adequately protects Canadians’ rights in an increasingly complex environment.
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