The operations, services, and website of the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline (the “Hotline”), www.canadianhumantraffickinghotline.ca, are part of The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking (“The Centre”), a not-for-profit, registered charity. More information about The Centre can be found at its website, www.ccteht.ca.
The Hotline is a confidential, multilingual service, operating 24/7/365 to connect victims and survivors with social services, law enforcement, and emergency services. It also receives tips from the public and provides information resources to callers. Callers can both provide and receive information anonymously if they wish.
Privacy Legislation Related to Personal Information
The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) is the federal legislation governing personal information privacy in Canada. According to The Application of PIPEDA to Charitable and Non-Profit Organizations, a document provided on the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s website: “PIPEDA applies to every organization that collects, uses or discloses personal information in the course of commercial activities.” Typically, the Act does not apply to most charities as they are not engaged in commercial activities as defined in the Act. This is the case with The Centre and the Hotline which have not in the past, do not currently, and do not intend in the future to engage in any commercial activities that fall under the requirements of PIPEDA.
Privacy is recognized as a “Charter value” in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and privacy is recognized and protected in Canadian common law and Quebec’s Civil Code of Conduct. The Centre and the Hotline are of the opinion that none of their activities contravene or disrespect such rights.
Code of Principles for the Protection of Personal Information
Even though The Centre and the Hotline do not engage in commercial activities that fall under PIPEDA, they believe that protection of personal information is of paramount importance. Consequently, they follow a set of principles, described below, which provide guidance to all organizations in ensuring that their users’ common and civil law rights relating to privacy are respected.
Schedule 1 of PIPEDA, “Principles Set Out in the National Standard of Canada Entitled Model Code for the Protection of Personal Information CAN/CSA-Q830-96”, sets out 10 principles on which PIPEDA is based. These principles are commonly referred to as “fair information principles”. Please see: http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/P-8.6/page-11.html#h-26 for further information.
The Model Code Principles provide a framework and guidance for how personal information should be treated to respect individual privacy rights. The following section indicates the purpose of each principle verbatim from the Model Code and then describes, briefly, the Hotline’s adherence to the principle.
Principle 1 – Accountability
An organization is responsible for personal information under its control and shall designate an individual or individuals who are accountable for the organization’s compliance with the following principles.
The Centre and the Hotline are responsible for the personal information under their control, and have designated a trained and informed individual to ensure ongoing compliance with the Model Code. Further, procedures to protect personal information have been put in place. Policies and practices related to personal information collection, use, disclosure, and control have been communicated to staff members.
Principle 2 – Identifying Purposes
The purposes for which personal information is collected shall be identified by the organization at or before the time the information is collected.
The identified purposes will be specified at or before the time of collection to the individual from whom the personal information is collected. Hotline staff have been trained to explain to individuals the purposes for which the information is being collected.
Principle 3 – Consent
The knowledge and consent of the individual are required for the collection, use, or disclosure of personal information, except where inappropriate.
Hotline staff seek consent to collect information from individuals who call the Hotline and will describe why and how the information will be used. Further, when the Hotline refers an individual to a social service provider, the Hotline will again seek consent from the individual to disclose the pertinent information to the provider.
As described in the Model Code, in certain circumstances personal information can be collected, used, or disclosed without the knowledge and consent of the individual. Examples of such circumstances may include:
- where consent may be impossible, inappropriate, or impractical when the individual is in imminent danger, seriously ill, or mentally incapacitated
- where a minor is involved and the law requires mandatory reporting to child protection authorities
- where the life, health or security of another individual(s) is threatened
- where the law compels the Hotline to comply such as through a subpoena, court order, or other legal instrument
Principle 4 – Limiting Collection
The collection of personal information shall be limited to that which is necessary for the purposes identified by the organization. Information shall be collected by fair and lawful means.
The Hotline will only collect information necessary for the purposes identified by the Hotline and will do so by fair and lawful means.
Principle 5 – Limiting Use, Disclosure, and Retention
Personal information shall not be used or disclosed for purposes other than those for which it was collected, except with the consent of the individual or as required by law. Personal information shall be retained only as long as necessary for the fulfilment of those purposes.
The Hotline will use and disclose information only for the purposes for which it was collected. Guidelines and procedures govern use, disclosure and retention.
Principle 6 – Accuracy
Personal information shall be as accurate, complete, and up-to-date as is necessary for the purposes for which it is to be used.
The Hotline will make decisions based on accurate, complete and up-to-date information as is necessary for the purposes for which it is to be used. Personal information will not be routinely updated unless such a process is necessary to fulfil the purposes for which the information was collected.
Principle 7 – Safeguards
Personal information shall be protected by security safeguards appropriate to the sensitivity of the information.
The Hotline will protect personal information against loss or theft, as well as unauthorized access, disclosure, copying, use, or modification. Methods of protection include physical, procedural, and technological measures.
Principle 8 – Openness
An organization shall make readily available to individuals specific information about its policies and practices relating to the management of personal information.
The Hotline will provide information about its management of personal information policies and practices upon receiving a written request.
Principle 9 – Individual Access
Upon request, an individual shall be informed of the existence, use, and disclosure of his or her personal information and shall be given access to that information. An individual shall be able to challenge the accuracy and completeness of the information and have it amended as appropriate.
Note: In certain situations, an organization may not be able to provide access to all the personal information it holds about an individual. Exceptions to the access requirement should be limited and specific. The reasons for denying access should be provided to the individual upon request. Exceptions may include information that is prohibitively costly to provide, information that contains references to other individuals, information that cannot be disclosed for legal, security, or commercial proprietary reasons, and information that is subject to solicitor-client or litigation privilege.
The Hotline will provide individual access to personal information upon written request subject to possible exclusions such as described above. In order to protect the privacy of individuals whose information the Hotline holds and to ensure data security is not negatively affected, the Hotline will need to verify the identity of the individual making a request before access can be given.
Principle 10 – Challenging Compliance
An individual shall be able to address a challenge concerning compliance with the above principles to the designated individual or individuals accountable for the organization’s compliance.
The Hotline has put procedures in place to receive and respond to complaints or inquiries about its policies and practices relating to the handling of personal information. The Hotline will inform individuals who make inquiries or lodge complaints of the existence of relevant complaint procedures and will investigate all complaints. If a complaint is found to be justified, the Hotline will take appropriate measures, including, if necessary, amending its policies and practices.
The Hotline’s Privacy Officer can be contacted by mail at:
Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline
P.O. Box 19647 Manulife P.O.
Toronto, ON M4W 3T9
Why Data is Important to Fulfil the Hotline’s Mandate
The collection of data is integrally tied to the Hotline’s purpose of serving victims/survivors of human trafficking, assisting social service providers and law enforcement in helping victims/survivors (including emergency and urgent safety circumstances), and building national data to better understand human trafficking in Canada.
More specifically, personal information is collected, used, and disclosed for the following reasons:
- to fulfil the Hotline’s funded role as a national human trafficking assistance access point and mechanism to collect data to better understand the extent, nature, and geography of human trafficking in Canada
- to use data in the release of publicly available reports about human trafficking in Canada
- to understand callers’ situations to be able to refer/connect them to the appropriate social service provider, law enforcement agency, or other party which can provide assistance or information to best meet their needs
- to better understand the Hotline users’ needs in order to refine and populate the Hotline’s National Referral Directory of social service providers, as well as to inform referral protocols with law enforcement agencies
- to develop evidence-based contributions, options, and proposals that may assist with government resource allocation and public policy formation
- to assist communities in identifying service gaps and resource development requirements
- to contribute evidence-based information to education and awareness campaigns targeted at specific communities, populations, and typologies of exploitation
- to contribute to research about human trafficking in Canada
- to meet legal requirements (e.g. mandatory reporting related to minors, etc.)
Who Provides Information to the Hotline
Primarily, the Hotline collects information from callers/users of the Hotline, currently accessed through its toll-free number, online form, and email address. These users include, predominantly, victims, survivors, individuals providing tips, social service provider employees, law enforcement agency employees, government employees, members of the public, and allied professionals. The Hotline may also be accessed by users who wish to remain anonymous.
All information is held to be confidential unless the Hotline receives consent from callers/users to disclose it (e.g. for the purposes of referring to a social service agency or connecting to law enforcement). An exception to confidentiality will be made where mandatory reporting laws are invoked, most typically with certain situations involving minors and threats of imminent harm to the caller or others.
All information collected from users of the toll-free number, the online form, and via email is limited to the purposes of the Hotline. In the case of individuals seeking a referral to a social service provider or law enforcement agency, or emergency services, the collection of information is limited to that which assists with assessing the individual’s safety and needs, and providing options for support. In the case of individuals providing a third party tip, the Hotline collects as much detailed information about the circumstances in order to understand it, assess it for trafficking indicators, and provide concrete information to law enforcement, if appropriate. In the case of other individuals described in the paragraph immediately above, the Hotline collects limited information and seeks to fulfil the request (e.g. for resources/materials) as expediently as possible.
Due to the extremely varied situations which may be described by users of the Hotline, as well as diversity of callers/users, the information collected per call can differ significantly.
Disclosure and Sharing of Hotline Information
Hotline information about users is disclosed and shared, primarily, for five distinct reasons. Firstly, information is shared with social service providers and law enforcement agencies, on the consent of the user, for those organizations to begin an intake/assessment process with the user for the goal of providing assistance to the user. Secondly, information is shared with child protective agencies when, and as, required by law. Thirdly, information is shared with emergency services in order to provide assistance to users or others in emergency situations. Fourthly, information is shared with law enforcement related to tips received by the Hotline that have actionable information related to calls assessed to have significant human trafficking indicators. Fifthly, information may be shared where required by court order.
Non-personal information is used for reports to funders and the public, and other stakeholders such as law enforcement. These reports are statistical in nature and aggregate data to show, among other factors, trends, patterns, volume, scale, extent, and geographic concentration. Aggregated data and information from the Hotline is also employed for research purposes at The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking.
The Hotline’s Privacy Officer can be contacted by mail at:
Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline
P.O. Box 19647 Manulife P.O.
Toronto, ON M4W 3T9