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Privacy Impact Assessments

Data sharing agreement between
the Directeur Général des Élections du Québec (DGEQ)
and Elections Canada

Executive Summary

This Privacy Impact Assessment evaluates whether the data sharing agreement between Elections Canada (EC) and the Directeur général des élections du Québec complies with the requirements of Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat privacy policies and the Privacy Act of Canada.

Elections Canada is responsible for delivering electoral events pursuant to the provisions of the Canada Elections Act. It maintains a permanent register of electors, referred to as the National Register of Electors or NROE, that holds the personal information of approximately 23 million electors. The NROE is a permanent database containing the name, address, sex, date of birth and a unique numerical identifier for each elector. Pursuant to subsection 55(1) of the Canada Elections Act, the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada has the authority to enter into an agreement with a provincial or territorial counterpart to share elector information for the purpose of updating the NROE database. Elections Canada has been receiving electoral data from Québec since 1997 under the terms of a one-way data sharing agreement. In 2008 the Québec Elections Act, at subsection 40.7.2, was amended to allow the Directeur général des élections du Québec to obtain from the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada the information contained in the NROE, and use it to update Québec's "Liste électorale permanente".

As federal agency, Elections Canada is subject to the Privacy Act and is required to comply with Treasury Board of Canada privacy policies. The Privacy Act defines personal information as information about an identifiable individual that is recorded in any form. The amended data sharing agreement between Elections Canada and the Directeur général des élections du Québec governs the collection, use, disclosure, and retention of personal information, namely the name, address, sex, date of birth and a unique numerical identifier for each elector. A PIA was therefore conducted.

The PIA examined the privacy implications of the initiative by measuring the terms of the data sharing agreement against the ten privacy principles. Concerns were identified in the areas of accountability, use and disclosure, as well as safeguards. The PIA recommends a number of actions to address the risks in these areas.

It is recommended that the data sharing agreement be strengthened by making the following amendments:

Improve accountability by:

  • providing that each party to the agreement be responsible not only for the actions of its employees, but also the actions of its agents and contractors with respect to the use, disclosure and disposition of the personal information that is subject to the agreement.

Limit the collection, use and disclosure of personal information by:

  • including a provision in the agreement that EC's unique identifier will be used by the Directeur général des élections du Québec only for the purpose of ensuring the quality of their electoral data, and will not be disclosed to third parties.

Safeguard personal information by:

  • establishing breach reporting and contingency planning measures in the data sharing agreement, including mutual accountability for prompt breach reporting;
  • providing the right of each party to request information from the other party regarding the security measures in place for the protection of personal information that is subject to the data sharing agreement;
  • providing the right of each party to request information from the other party regarding compliance with the privacy legislation and policies in effect in that jurisdiction;
  • providing for discussion of challenges, innovations and best practices with respect to the privacy and security of personal information in periodic meetings of the parties to discuss matters related to the data sharing agreement.

Elections Canada will need to re-examine this assessment when a significant change in the data sharing agreement is contemplated.