Commissioner Has Words of Advice About New Biometric Entry System in Calgary

May 5, 2009

Information and Privacy Commissioner, Frank Work, is concerned about a new security and identification system which will soon be employed by the Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre.

Recent media reports have indicated the new system involves the collection of biometric information of Drop-In Centre clients, including a scan of fingerprints, and that providing the information will be mandatory; if clients refuse to participate, they will face expulsion from the Centre.

Commissioner Work says the scanning system will likely also mean the creation of a database that will store that information. “I’d like to know how long information will be retained, how it will be properly secured and whether or not the information will be disclosed to other organizations or the police and in what circumstances.”

Work also notes that if the Drop-In Centre operates as a non-profit organization incorporated under the Societies Act, PIPA will only apply to the Centre’s activities where personal information is collected, used or disclosed for commercial purposes. OIPC staff previously met with the Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre to discuss the plans, to review possible privacy risks and to identify measures to reduce or eliminate those risks.

Work points out organizations that are subject to the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) have to ensure they have a reasonable purpose for collecting personal information in the first place. They must also obtain consent in most cases, and tell people the purpose for collecting the information.