2010-2011 Signatures provided in public service capacity not personal information

Complaint: The Privy Council Office (PCO) withheld as personal information the signatures of employees on all call-ups it had processed in the National Capital Region over one month for temporary help.

Investigation: The OIC found that the individuals had signed the call-ups in order to approve them in their professional capacity.

Outcome: PCO disclosed the signatures.

Information Commissioner’s position

  • While a signature is information about an identifiable person, the signature of a government employee provided in the course of official functions falls within the exception to the definition of personal information found in paragraph 3(j) of the Privacy Act.
  • The presence or absence of signatures or initials is an important piece of information in the context of government accountability.
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