Developing Privacy Impact Assessments

A Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) is a risk management process that helps institutions ensure they meet regulatory requirements and identify the risks and potential impacts their programs and activities will have on an individuals’ privacy.

Conducting a PIA is a means of helping to ensure compliance with any legal requirements set out in jurisdictional legislation, and the requirements of any organizational policies and directives. Adhering to the requirements will reduce the risk of improper or unauthorized collection, use, disclosure, retention or disposal of personal information.

While programs and activities must comply with legal and policy requirements, they should also be designed to incorporate best practices and to minimize negative impacts on the privacy of individuals. For example, you should work to reduce the risk that an individual may suffer harm, such as identity theft, reputational damage, physical harm or distress, as a result of your program’s handling of their personal information. A PIA may not eliminate such risks altogether, but should help to identify and manage them.

PIAs allow institutions to identify and mitigate risks as early and as completely as possible. They are a key tool for decision-makers, enabling them to deal with issues internally and proactively rather than waiting for complaints, external intervention or bad press.

Each jurisdiction will have a unique privacy landscape and may have specific requirements for PIAs, but we have provided a sample PIA guide and template here that should at least help to start the privacy conversation in your project.

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