Archives and Privacy in a Wired World: The Impact of the Personal Information Act (Bill C-6) on Archives

  • Tim Cook


In this electronic age of Internet and e-mail, transnational databases, and electronic-commerce, there is a growing fear that personal information is sold to the highest bidder and privacy is steadily being eroded. The Canadian government has listened and responded, both to its citizens and the international community that has demanded tighter rules. The Personal Information Act of 2000 (Bill C-6) sets out the conditions by which private companies and individuals must conform to safeguard personal information. But privacy advocates have argued that stronger measures are needed.

This article examines the impact of the Personal Information Act on archives. In the interest of protecting privacy and personal information, privacy legislation and advocates seem willing to sacrifice aspects of our culture and history. Archivists must ensure that this is not the case and find a balance between privacy infringement and the need for all Canadians to know themselves, their heritage, and their collective history.

Author Biography

Tim Cook

Tim Cook has worked as an Archivist in the Government Archives Branch of the National Archives of Canada since 1998. He is currently on secondment to the Canadian War Museum until 2005, where he is tasked with setting up the permanent galleries in the new museum. Mr. Cook has published extensively in both Canadian and international journals, and is author of No Place To Run: The Canadian Corps and Gas Warfare in the First World War (University of British Columbia Press, 1999), which won the 2000 C.P. Stacey award for best book in Canadian military history.

How to Cite
Cook, Tim. 2002. “Archives and Privacy in a Wired World: The Impact of the Personal Information Act (Bill C-6) on Archives”. Archivaria 53 (May), 94-114.