Identify your personal information

Identify the personal information in your initiative

It's important to have documentation about the personal information involved in your initiative readily available for your privacy experts. This will help them to determine whether your initiative needs a Privacy Impact Assessment or any other privacy deliverables.

Before engaging your privacy expert, put together a list of all the information involved in your initiative, including:

  • if it’s personal information
  • its purpose in connection to your initiative, whether it’s a need to have or nice to have
  • how it will be used, such as for administrative or non-administrative purpose
  • any details you might have on how it will be shared

Make sure it's clear how each piece of personal information plays a critical role in achieving your objectives to ensure you’re only collecting the least required.

Identifying personal information

Personal information is any information that can be used to identify an individual, such as their name, home address, email address, telephone number, or date of birth. Even a number or symbol can be considered personal information if it can be attributed to an individual. Identifying personal information could depend on the context, circumstances, or how the information is combined.

Administrative versus non-administrative use

When listing the information involved in your initiative, make sure to include how it will be used, such as for:

Administrative purpose
Information used to make a decision about an individual, such as eligibility for a benefit or confirming someone’s identity when logging into an online account
Non-administrative purpose
Information used for research, statistics, or for an evaluation of your initiative

Scenario: Can I make do with less?


Claire, a program manager, wants to collect 6-digit postal codes to offer a benefits program to citizens living in rural communities.


Because the program targets people in rural communities, her privacy advisor cautions that a 6-digit postal code may indicate the exact address of somebody’s home.


Claire decides to collect a 3-digit postal code instead because it is sufficient to track the regional participation of her program’s applicants, while ensuring it doesn’t unnecessarily reveal personal information.

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