Our commitment and laws
We are committed to protecting your privacy whether you are browsing for information or conducting business with the government through electronic channels. The handling of all personal information by Government of Ontario organizations is governed by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
The Ministry of Health and Long-term Care also ensures that your personal health information is private, confidential and secure through the Personal Health Information Protection Act.
When you visit our websites, we will not collect your personal information unless you choose to use and receive online products and services that require it. For transactions with government organizations involving credit cards, government systems use up-to-date security protocols to ensure the integrity and confidentiality of information and systems. Service providers under contract to provide online services on behalf of the government must follow the practices required of Government of Ontario organizations.
You have a choice
If you choose not to use the Internet to provide personal information to a government ministry or agency, you can contact the ministry or agency telephone, fax, mail or in person. (Not all options may be available in every situation.)
Collection, notice, use and disclosure
This Privacy Statement explains our current practices regarding what information government ministries and agencies may collect, use, and secure your personal information when you visit our websites. In addition, some government organizations may post further detailed statements related to their specific programs. Those statements supplement this Privacy Statement.
We may only collect personal information that is specifically authorized at law, or where the collection is necessary to provide you with a program or service. We collect personal information directly from you, unless another manner of collection is authorized by law.
When a government ministry or agency collects personal information in connection with providing a program or service, we provide you with a notice that explains (at minimum) the:
- legal authority for the collection
- principal purposes for which the information will be used
- contact information of a person who can answer your questions about the collection, use and disclosure of your information
A Notice may include more information than what is set out above.
We may only use personal information for the purpose it has been collected, or for a consistent purpose, unless another use is specifically authorized at law.
We may only disclose personal information where we have legal authority to do so, or where the disclosure is for the purpose that we collected the information such as providing you with a program or service.
What kind of information is collected?
When you browse or download information from Government of Ontario websites, our servers automatically collect limited amounts of standard information for traffic monitoring and statistical purposes. The information is analyzed for operational trends, performance, and for ways to improve our sites. The government cannot identify you from this information.
We collect the following standard types of information:
- Internet Protocol (IP) addresses of the computers being used to access our sites
- operating systems and the types and versions of browsers used to access our sites
- Internet Service Providers used by visitors to our sites
- dates and times users access our sites
- pages visited
- keywords users enter into our search engine
- names and sizes of files requested
Government websites collect the above noted information to provide citizens with access to information and services available on our websites. The Government of Ontario’s computer systems use hardware and software to anonymously monitor unauthorized attempts to upload or change information at government websites, disrupt service, or otherwise cause damage. As a general practice, we make no attempt to link this information with the identity of individuals visiting our sites. If an attempt to damage our site has been detected, we can take further actions.
What happens when you send us personal information?
You may choose to provide us with personal information such as your name, address, phone number, e-mail address and credit card number, if you wish to:
- submit an e-mail, comment, question or request or subscribe for information online
- request a service, product, or fill out a registration or licence form online
- provide feedback, participate in consultations or surveys online
- conduct e-commerce transactions with a ministry or agency
When you visit a government organization’s website, any personal information you provide will be used to respond to your message and/or provide you with the requested service or product. The collection of personal information by government organizations must be in accordance with section 38(2) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. This section of the Act requires government organizations to collect only the personal information that is necessary for the administration of a government program. At the time the information is collected, you will be informed of the specific purpose for which it is being collected.
Accessing and correcting your personal information?
Some government online services may provide the ability for Internet users to correct their own information online. Individuals also have a right to access their personal information that is held by an Ontario government organization by making an access request under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). Access is subject to limits and exceptions outlined in FIPPA.
For more information on the process for accessing your personal information, you may wish to view the Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) website: Accessing Personal Information. You can check what types of personal information may be held by government ministries and agencies by browsing the Directory of Records on the Ministry of Government Services Access and Privacy website. You can request that government organizations correct inaccurate or incomplete information.
Cookies used by the Government of Ontario, do not give us access to anything on your hard drive and cannot do anything to your computer. Cookies used by the Government are encrypted for security purposes to make any information in the cookie unreadable to anyone except the government organization with which you are dealing. Ontario government organizations use two types of cookies: session cookies (temporary) or persistent cookies (longer-term continuing use).
- session cookies may be used to support on-line feedback/discussion, forms and registration and ‘e-commerce/shopping cart’ transactions – they are used only during your online session and expire when you close your browser. Without session cookies, moving around our Web sites could be much slower
- persistent cookies are different from session cookies because they are stored on your computer’s hard drive for some length of time – they are usually used if you want us to remember information about your Web preferences (e.g.large font) and passwords for automatic log-in purposes
Further information on ‘cookies’ is at the website of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario: If you wanted to know…What to do about Cookies.
The use of these tools does not allow us or our analytics service providers to identify individuals.
You can opt-out of analytics activity by setting your browser to notify you when a cookie is sent and block analytics cookies if desired. Please consult your browser’s Help Menu for instructions. Visiting our website with analytics cookies disabled will have no significant impact on your browsing experience.
Google currently offers a free Google Analytics opt-out tool for Internet Explorer (versions 7 and 8), Google Chrome (4.x and higher), and Mozilla Firefox (3.5 and higher).
The ministers of government ministries and agencies are responsible for the administration of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). The Act requires government organizations to protect the personal information in their possession. The Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) oversees whether government organizations comply with the access and privacy provisions of the Act by investigating privacy complaints and hearing appeals regarding access decisions made by ministries.
For more information about making a privacy complaint to the IPC, see the IPC website Filing a Privacy Complaint. For more information about appealing an access or correction decision to the IPC, see the IPC website Filing an Appeal.
In addition to the privacy rules of FIPPA the government of Ontario has also established privacy policies and practices that also govern how we manage personal information including:
- the management of privacy breaches
- conducting privacy and security assessments when we change the way we provide programs and services or when we use contractors or agents to assist us provide programs and services
- consultations with the IPC when we develop legislation or regulations, or change programs, that involve the management of personal information
The government’s security practices are continually evolving to ensure that the integrity and confidentiality of information and systems are maintained. The government uses up-to-date security safeguards to protect its networks and websites from misuse, alteration, copying, disclosure, destruction, monitoring or unauthorized sharing of information and damage. The government’s safeguards include the use of security software and encryption protocols and involve physical, technical and procedural controls to protect information behind the government firewall.
Take steps to protect your online activities
Users are encouraged to learn about protecting their own computers to ensure that their online activities remain private. One place to start for tips on home network security is a Question and Answer sheet produced by the Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute – CERT Coordination Center.