Investigation Concludes That Use of Personal Information by a City of Calgary Alderman in Addressing Correspondence to Members of the Calgary Police Association Was Not an Unreasonable Invasion of Privacy

July 7, 2000

Bob Clark, Information and Privacy Commissioner, publicly released Investigation Report 2000-IR-002 today. The report concludes a complaint from the Calgary Police Association that a City of Calgary Alderman breached Association board member’s privacy by sending correspondence to their private residences.

The Alderman is also a member of the Calgary Police Commission. She requested and was given a list of home addresses from the Police Commission so that individual Board member’s opinions could be obtained regarding the issues of parallel investigations and active Police Association support of political candidates. Correspondence was sent to the individuals’ home addresses and contained their position and listed the Calgary Police Association as the organization they represented.

The investigation determined that a list containing the home addresses and phone numbers of members and administrative staff had been supplied to the Police Commission as a result of a request to the Association for information restricted to the names and positions of members holding office on the Board of the Association. The investigation concluded that the Police Commission was not authorized to collect the home addresses and other personal information contained in the list that was sent in error from the Police Association.  It was recommended that the list be returned to the Police Association and that policy be implemented that would result in the return of personal information which has not been specifically requested.

The investigation concluded that it would be absurd to interpret the privacy provisions of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to prevent the use of personal information for the purpose of addressing correspondence. However, it was recommended that when addressing correspondence to personal residences, the positions and organization that the recipients represent should be omitted.

It was also recommended that the Calgary Police Association review their controls on the release of personal information that they are in possession of, even though the Police Association is not a public body as set out in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.