Protecting Your Privacy

The Canadian Marketing Association is a leader in industry self-regulation and ensures marketers remain ahead of the curve in protecting consumer privacy through its comprehensive Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.

Mandatory for CMA members, the Code of Ethics sets and maintains standards for the conduct of Canadian Marketers and includes specific guidelines on fulfilment procedures, Internet marketing, interest-based advertising, consumer privacy and marketing to children and teenagers.

Furthermore, CMA members participate in Operation Integrity, a consumer complaint program; CMA's Do Not Contact Program; and recognize an obligation to practice to the highest standards of honesty, truth, accuracy and fairness.

CMA members include Canada's major financial institutions, insurance companies, publishers, cataloguers and charitable organizations, relationship marketers and those engaged in electronic commerce and multimedia marketing.

CMA's Privacy Code

The Canadian Marketing Association has been at the forefront of the Canadian privacy landscape for over a decade and has been actively involved in various national and international forums discussing privacy issues and the protection of personal information.

CMA's Privacy Code gives you the right to:

  • Consent before your personal information is transferred to a third party;
  • Access information held about you;
  • Obtain the source of your name on marketing lists;
  • Correct erroneous information; and,
  • Have your name removed from telephone and direct mail marketing lists.

The Privacy Code demonstrates that CMA members have a commitment to ethical guidelines as a key part of their business operations. The Association regularly monitors the marketplace to ensure that its Code of Ethics and Privacy Code keeps pace with new marketing practices and technologies. Each year CMA members must sign a commitment to follow the Code.

Special considerations for children and teenagers

Interactive technology has provided children and teenagers with new opportunities for learning, communicating, playing and shopping.

Parents, children and teenagers should be aware that the Internet has joined television, print and other media as an important component of today's marketing campaigns, which are increasingly focused on using consumer information to build individual relationships.

CMA's Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice sets out specific guidelines for members who market to younger audiences. These directives better guide CMA members and the greater marketing community in protecting and respecting the interests of children and teenagers.

CMA's Guidelines for Marketing to Children

In 1999, CMA introduced comprehensive guidelines for marketing to children, which were adopted by the International Federation of Direct Marketing Associations as the global standard. The guidelines raise the level of privacy protection for children and provide parameters on the areas of marketing language and commercial transactions and by defining the age at which a person is considered a child.

Tips for Parents - CMA's Protecting Your Children's Privacy

CMA's Guidelines for Marketing to Teenagers

In 2002, to address the growth of teen marketing, the Canadian Marketing Association introduced amendments to its Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice to ensure marketers respect a teenager's right to privacy. The guidelines raise the level of privacy protection for teenagers draw distinctions on what is and isn't appropriate in marketing to teens, and fills the gap between the fairly limited forms appropriate with young children and the fairly wide-open forms appropriate for adults.

Tips for Parents - CMA's Protecting Your Teenager's Privacy

For additional information on protecting the privacy of your children and teenagers check out one or more of these websites:

Media-Awareness Network
Media-Awareness Network provides resources and support for everyone interested in media and information literacy for young people and highlights the challenges and questions that arise as children and teenagers surf the Internet.

Advertising Standards Canada
Advertising Standards Canada is a national industry association that administers the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards, the principal instrument of advertising self-regulation.

Government Legislation

There is legislation that protects your personal privacy. Individuals are protected by the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) which came into effect January 2001 and sets out ground rules for how private sector organizations may collect, use or disclose personal information in the course of commercial activities.

Based on universally recognized data protection principles, PIPEDA is a well-balanced law that recognizes the rights of consumers to protect their personal information and provides flexibility for organizations to use customer data to grow their business.

Quebec has an Act respecting the protection of personal information in the private sector, and several other provinces have passed similar provincial privacy legislation.

Where provincial privacy legislation exists that is not considered substantially similar to PIPEDA, the two laws will operate concurrently. Where the PIPEDA sets higher standards for privacy protection than the provincial legislation, the federal provisions will must comply with them.

For more information on PIPEDA, visit the website of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. You may also lodge a complaint at this address if you feel that an organization has violated your privacy rights.

Built-in to the legislation is a requirement that PIPEDA be reviewed every 5 years by a Committee of Parliament. This took place in 2006 and is expected again in 2012. The 2006 review resulted in that recommendation that PIPEDA should be amended to include provisions that address data breaches, as well as clarification of the status of business email addresses. These and other amendments are now before the House as Bill C-12.

Provincial/Territorial Information and Privacy Offices

For more ways to protect your information, refer to your provincial/territorial information and privacy office:

Eastern Offices
Western Offices

ANY QUESTIONS? Review our consumer FAQs.