Archived - Privacy and Data Protection Guidelines - Corrections and Notations
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Request for correction
Paragraph 12(2)(a) of the Act provides that every individual given access to personal information about himself or herself that has been used, is being used, or is available for use for an administrative purpose is entitled to request correction of the information where the individual believes there is an error or omission therein.
Section 11 of the Privacy Regulations sets out the procedures to be followed by an individuals seeking correction of their personal information and by government institutions responding to such requests.
When seeking a correction of information about himself or herself, an individual is required to complete a Correction Request Form (see Model Form, Chapter 3-5). This form must be completed for each personal information bank or class of personal information containing information which is considered by the individual to be in error or to contain an omission. The individual should include with the Correction Request Form any documentary evidence which may be used to establish the validity of the requested correction.
When the correction is accepted by the institution, the Regulations require that the government institution, within 30 days of receiving the Correction Request Form, notify:
- the individual, in writing, that the correction has been made;
- any person or body to whom the information was disclosed in the two years preceding the date that the request for correction was received, of the acceptance of the correction; and
- any government institution to which the information was disclosed within the two years preceding the date that the request for correction was received, of any correction made, and of their responsibility to make the correction on every copy of the information under their control.
The notice to the individual should include a list of the persons, bodies and institutions who will be notified of the acceptance of the correction.
When a request for correction is refused in whole or in part, the government institution must, within 30 days of receiving the Correction Request Form:
- attach a notation to the personal information reflecting that a correction was requested but was refused in whole or in part;
- notify the individual that the request for correction has been refused in whole or in part and give the reasons for the refusal. They must notify the individual that a notation reflecting the request for correction and the refusal has been attached to the personal information. They must inform the individual that he or she has the right under the Act to complain to the Privacy Commissioner;
- notify any person or body to whom the personal information was disclosed in the two years preceding the date that the request for correction was received and that a notation has been attached to the personal information; and
- notify the appropriate officer of any government institution to which the information was disclosed in the two years preceding the date that the request for correction was received that a notation has been attached to the personal information, and that the officer is required to attach such a notation to every copy of the personal information under the control of that institution.
The notice to the individual should include a list of the persons, bodies and institutions who have been notified of the attachment of the notation.
When a government institution receives a notice from another government institution that a correction or a notation has been made, the institution receiving the notice shall correct or notate every copy of the personal information under the control of the institution without delay.
Requests for correction of factual information may usually be accepted. This is particularly so when the original information was supplied by the individual, or when documentary evidence to support the correction is supplied. Where the correction will affect an administrative decision concerning the individual (eg. eligibility for a benefit), documentary evidence provided to support the correction should be the same as the evidence required when the information was originally collected.
Requests for correction of opinion should usually be accepted if the individual was the source of the opinion and the opinion does not concern any other individual. Corrections will not normally be made to opinions given by other individuals about the requestor except in the following circumstances: (a) there are reasons to suspect the reliability of the source of the opinion, or (b) the requestor has obtained the agreement of the source of the opinion that the original opinion was based on incorrect information. Normally, the individual may be informed of the difficulty in re-assessing the validity of an opinion, and a notation may be made giving the individual's views on the matter.
Incorporation of corrections and notations
In many cases, corrections can be made by changing the particular information within a record while notations may be made by adding to the record. In circumstances where this is not possible (e.g. certain computer records), the accepted method is to store the correction or notation in such a way that it is retrieved with the original information (e.g. a flag on a computer file or a notice attached to a paper file). In all cases, corrections and notations must be stored in a manner which will ensure that they are retrieved and used whenever the original personal information is used for an administrative purpose.