When we exercise our rights we send a strong signal to those in power: We do not take our freedoms for granted and we won’t stand practices that erode or otherwise threaten them. The right of access to personal information is no exception.
Helps encourage institutions to be better stewards of personal information.
Submitting a request lets institutions know that you are concerned about how your personal data is used. By making requests, the public will place pressure on institutions to adopt policies and procedures prioritize the responsible stewardship of personal information instead of placing it as an afterthought.
When AMI was released in 2014, Canadian telecommunications companies were put under public pressure to disclose information about how the companies disclosed personal information to law enforcement and other state agencies. The community of people asking for access helped to convince companies that being more transparent about the disclosure of personal information was good, popular policy.
Requests can also spur institutions to improve their internal privacy practices. In responding to the requests, institutions may develop data inventories so that institutions themselves can better understand the varieties of personal data collected across disparate systems. The result may be that institutions actually start collecting less information in the future if they lack a business reason to be collecting it in the first place.
Informs the evolution of privacy regulation
Exercising your right to personal information can provide valuable evidence to policy makers about the law’s effectiveness in the real world. For instance, in 2014 we saw that thousands of AMI users requesting their data overwhelmed Canadian telecommunications companies. Many of these requesters in turn complained to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, which may make recommendations for revised regulation or refined guidance for businesses.
Helps out research
Access my Info is a project developed and operated by privacy researchers based in Toronto. Andrew Hilts and Dr. Christopher Parsons are the project’s principal investigators, with funding from CIRA and support from the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, University of Toronto.
After you’ve gone through the Access My Info process, you’ll be asked if you’d like to share some basic information with the AMI team. Please consider clicking this checkbox and opting-in to sharing information about your request with us (but not your identity): the date of your request, the legal jurisdiction of the request, to whom you issued a request, and the services included in the request.
We’ll also ask if you’d like to sign up for notifications from Access My Info. These notifications will be sent to your email address; 30 days after you signed up you’ll get an email asking whether or not you received a response to your request. It will provide some resources to help you if you haven’t and also ask you to fill out a short survey. After 30 more days, if you haven’t yet filled out the survey, we’ll send you an email with a link to the survey.
Data from your opt-in reporting and survey responses will help our research team better understand how people are using Access My Info and inform our analyses of the state of the right to personal information in Canada. We intend our work to inform both data handling organizations, as well as regulators by helping each set of stakeholders make evidence-based decisions about right to information policies and procedures.