Thursday, January 31, 2013

What is PIPEDA and Why Should You Care?

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One of the things that administrative professionals is often responsible for is confidentiality.  We are expected to keep client info private and not speak about projects that we work on.  But privacy is an even bigger concern for businesses and as an admin assistant we need to be aware of how that affects our business.

PIPEDA is one of the biggest privacy laws around and it has to do with data privacy.  If your company holds any data at all about clients or customers you need to be aware of this law and make sure you are doing everything according to its requirements.  PIPEDA regulates how businesses are allowed to collect use and disclose personal information.  This does not include name, title or business addresses.

PIPEDA is important for customers and businesses because it gives them the right to know the information that a business might collect about them.  It also gives them the right to know what happens to that information – what is it used for and will it be access by anyone besides the business who has that information.  Will it be given to other businesses?  It also gives businesses and individuals the right to know who is responsible for maintaining the privacy of their information – what means do they use to make sure that it is not accidentally made public?

Sometimes it is not so obvious what information a company may be collecting from you so PIPEDA gives individuals and businesses the right to find out what information an organization has collected about them.  It can be corrected if necessary.  And if the information is handled incorrectly individuals have a right to complain about it.

Now – what does this have to do with being an administrative assistant you may ask?  As the person who is often responsible for collecting info about clients and customers it is your responsibility to make sure that it is being handled properly.  You must make sure that you have the consent of your clients and customers to collect information about them and you need to make sure you have their permission before allowing anyone else to have access to it.  As well, you should remember that you must provide business services to people who choose not to share their info.  

Finally, admins are often the ones that are responsible for putting together policy and procedure reports so you must make sure that there are clear policies on how your company will handle personal information.  These policies must be made available to employees and to clients.  They should outline exactly what information you may collect and exactly what you will do with it.  You must also make sure that there is someone to contact if clients have questions or concerns or want to correct information.

PIPEDA is serious business.  
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