Privacy and Access to Information

This guide is a starting point for finding books, legislation, case law, articles, websites, and other resources for legal research on privacy & access to information.



Last revised Feb. 9, 2023

Annotated Legislation

Case Law

Orders and Summaries of Findings

Privacy Commissioner of Alberta

Orders of the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) of Alberta (1996- onwards) are available from:

Orders of the OIPC can be judicially reviewed in the Court of King’s Bench. “Judicial review” refers to the power of the Court of King’s Bench of Alberta to determine whether the Information and Privacy Commissioner has acted strictly within the powers that have been given to him or her.

Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Canada Privacy Commissioner Summaries of Findings (2001 – onwards) are available from:

Findings may be subject to judicial review before the Federal Court. In addition, the Privacy Commissioner may be involved in a review before the Federal Court under section 42 of the Privacy Act, or by applying to appear before the Federal Court in cases where a federal institution has denied an individual access to his or her personal information.

Information Commissioner of Canada

Canada Information Commissioner Investigation Summaries are available from:

  • Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada 1991-

The Information Commissioner may be involved in several types of proceedings before Federal Court, including judicial review.

For more information on finding case law see also our research guide: Finding and Researching Cases



Access to Information Act, RSC 1985, cA-1

  • came into force July 1,1983
  • provides a right of access to information in records under the control of a federal government institution

Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, SC 2000, c 5

  • sets out ground rules for how private sector organizations may collect, use or disclose personal information in the course of commercial activities
  • applies to federal works, undertakings and businesses in respect of employee personal information
  • gives individuals the right to access and request correction of the personal information these organizations may have collected about them
  • generally, PIPEDA applies to organizations’ commercial activities in all provinces, except organizations that collect, use or disclose personal information entirely within provinces that have their own privacy laws, which have been declared substantially similar to PIPEDA. In such cases, it is the substantially similar provincial law that will apply instead of PIPEDA, although PIPEDA continues to apply to federal works, undertakings or businesses and to interprovincial or international transfers of personal information

Privacy Act, RSC 1985, c P-21

  • imposes obligations on federal government departments and agencies to limit the collection, use and disclosure of personal information
  • gives individuals the right to access and request correction of personal information about themselves held by these federal government organizations

Federal Acts and Regulations can be found electronically at:


Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, RSA 2000, c F-25

  • came into force in 1995
  • covers public bodies
  • sets out individuals’ rights to access records (of any type) that are in the custody or control of a public body (subject to the exceptions as set out in the FOIP Act)
  • sets out the timelines and requirements under which a public body must respond to an access request

Health Information Act, RSA 2000, c H-5

  • came into force April 25, 2001
  • provides individuals with the right to request access to health records in the custody or under the control of custodians
  • provides custodians with a framework within which they must conduct the collection, use and disclosure of health information
  • also covers the actions of affiliates. Affiliates include employees, volunteers, contractors and agencies under contract to the custodian

Personal Information Protection Act, SA 2003, c P-6.5

  • came into force in 2004
  • governs the collection, use and disclosure of personal information by private sector organizations
  • allows individuals to request access to their own personal information, including their personal employee information, and to request that personal information be corrected if the accuracy of the information is disputed
  • individuals may make a complaint to the Information and Privacy Commissioner if they believe their personal information has been collected, used or disclosed without proper authority or without their consent
  • personal information in the custody or control of private sector organizations as it relates to commercial transactions or activities is subject to PIPA
  • personal employee information is covered by PIPA
  • allows the Commissioner to review the decisions of private sector organizations to deny an individual access to their own personal information, or to refuse a request for correction to their own personal information

 To access or purchase the official version, go to: Alberta King’s Printer


Canadian Encyclopedic Digest

Canadian Encyclopedic Digest (C.E.D.) (Western), 4th ed.

 Some sections relevant to Privacy law include: 

  • Internet Law
  • Privacy and Freedom of Information

Available electronically through: Westlaw Canada

Halsbury's Laws of Canada

Halsbury’s Laws of Canada

This multi-volume set includes coverage of Federal, Provincial & Territorial legislation. It explains the legislation and cases which govern privacy law issues in every jurisdiction in Canada.

Titles related to privacy law include:

Additional information may be found under other topical headings.

Also available electronically through : LexisAdvance Quicklaw




Additional full-text articles are available electronically through:

Words and Phrases

Research into words & phrases judicially defined identifies the interpretation of a word or phrase by the courts. Words & phrases sources typically provide the case citation and a direct quotation of the relevant section from the decision.

Some textbooks have a subject-specific words & phrases section; for example:

Contains a section on words & phrases that have been considered in the context of government information and privacy law in Canada.




Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta (OIPC) – provides you with information needed to understand the provincial privacy legislation including FOIP Act, HIA, PIPA and AMVIR. It provides access to Commissioner’s Orders, Investigation Reports and other publications from the OIPC

Health Records


The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada can enforce the anti-spam legislation (which came into force July 1, 2014) with respect to two types of conduct:

  • the collection of personal information through access to computer systems contrary to an act of parliament;
  • electronic address harvesting where bulk email lists are compiled through mechanisms; including the use of computer programs that automatically mine the Internet for addresses.


  • Canadian Privacy Law Blog – This blog is written by a Canadian privacy lawyer.
  • Michael Geist – Dr. Michael Geist is a law professor at the University of Ottawa where he holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law. He blogs on many tech law topics including privacy, spam, and surveillance
  • Privacy and IT Law – By Eloise Gratton, a lawyer practicing in Privacy and IT Law. She also teaches at the Faculty of Law, Université de Montréal.

Disclaimer: As law librarians, we are pleased to provide you this resource for information and research purposes only – It is not a substitute for professional legal advice. We strive to bring you quality and current information in this resource, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, accessibility, adequacy, or completeness of the information presented here. The sources featured are selected based on professional assessment and opinion, and do not constitute an endorsement, editorial, review, or guarantee.