|This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by the Law Students' Legal Advice Program on July 24, 2023.|
A. Overview of Privacy Obligations
There are two main aspects to privacy within a strata context, one concerning “the right to be left alone” and the other concerning the collection, use, disclosure, and protection of personal information.
1. The “Right to be Left Alone”
Heckert v 5470 Investments Ltd., 2008 BCSC 1298 defines “privacy” at para. 72 as: “the right to be let alone, the right of a person to be free from unwarranted publicity … the right of an individual (or corporation) to withhold himself and his property from public scrutiny, if he so chooses.”
Further, the Privacy Act, RSBC 1996, c 373 provides for a statutory cause of action for violation of privacy in s. 1(1): it is a tort, actionable without proof of damage, for a person, willfully and without a claim of right, to violate the privacy of another. Only the BC Supreme Court can hear claims about Privacy Act breaches.
2. Personal Information
“Personal information” is any information, whether fact or opinion, regarding an identifiable individual. The only exception is business contact information. “Business contact information” is a person’s name and business address, business telephone, business fax number, and business email address. Under the Personal Information Protection Act, SBC 2003, c 63 (“PIPA”), the most recent enactment of the Privacy Act, business information is not personal information and can be disclosed freely.
A strata corporation is required by the SPA to collect certain personal information, including names and addresses of strata lot owners, tenants, and occupants. In addition, strata corporations frequently collect other personal information, such as banking information, letters of complaint, and emergency contact information.
PIPA also holds strata corporations responsible for any personal information it collects and any personal information collected on its behalf. Three matters of importance when assessing compliance with PIPA are:
- 1. A strata corporation must obtain proper consent before collecting, using, or disclosing personal information from or about an individual. The strata lot owner, tenant, or occupant is entitled to know what is being done with their personal information;
- 2. A strata corporation should have proper system in place to ensure that all the personal information in its possession is protected;
- 3. A strata corporation must be prepared to respond to request from individuals for access to their own personal information. An organization under PIPA must provide upon request:
- a) The personal information of that individual that the strata corporation has in its possession;
- b) The ways in which the personal information is being used; and
- c) The names of individuals and organizations to which the personal information has been disclosed.
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