Clear Requirements Needed in Scrap Metal Dealers and Recyclers Legislation

December 3, 2012

One of the functions of the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) is to comment on freedom of information or privacy implications of proposed legislative schemes.

Bill 201, the Scrap Metal Dealers and Recyclers Identification Act, is a private member’s bill being considered by the Legislative Assembly. The Bill requires scrap metal dealers and recyclers to collect information about individuals when purchasing or receiving scrap metal and to report information about any transaction to law enforcement agencies when the amount of scrap metal purchased or received exceeds a specified weight or if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the scrap metal is stolen property.

Assistant Commissioner Marylin Mun says the OIPC is always concerned when private sector organizations are “deputized” to collect personal information about individuals with the intent of providing the information to law enforcement agencies. “The requirements for collecting and disclosing personal information must be clear and easy to find. If not, then dealers and recyclers might collect and disclose more personal information than required.”

Mun points out that a number of matters are not clear from the Bill, including:

  • the type and amount of personal information that will be collected by a dealer or recycler,
  • the manner in which the personal information is recorded and kept secured by a dealer or recycler, and
  • how long a dealer or recycler must retain the information.

As some of these details will be set out in regulations should the Bill become law, Mun says the OIPC would welcome the opportunity to consult with the Minister responsible for developing the regulations. Mun adds that guidelines and educational materials should be considered, including a protection of personal information policy, so that each party understands their rights and responsibilities under the law. The OIPC would be willing to assist in the development of these publications.

“We understand scrap metal theft is a growing concern. But there are individuals legitimately involved in this business. The challenge is to address the concern while respecting privacy.”