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Privacy and COVID-19

Updated: Mar 25, 2020

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (“OPC”) has recently announced that “during a public health crisis, privacy laws still apply, but they are not a barrier to appropriate information sharing.” When governments (i.e., federal or provincial governments) declare formal public emergencies they can be provided broad powers to collect, use and disclose personal information. According to the Guidance, there are also some circumstances under which organizations may collect, use, or disclose personal information without the consent of the individual, including:

  • if an individual is critically ill or in a particularly dangerous situation, and needs help;

  • instances where a public health authority has the legislative authority to require the disclosure;

  • if an organization believes an individual is in contravention of an invoked quarantine order; and

  • if the use or disclosure is for the purpose of acting in respect of an emergency that threatens the life, health or security of an individual (paragraphs 7(2)(b) and 7(3)(e)), such as if an individual requires urgent medical attention, and they are unable to communicate directly with medical professionals.

For further information, please contact us .

Government of Canada :

Government of Québec :

European Data Protection Board:

Other resources :

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