Common Freedom of Information Terminology


"FIPPA" is the acronym for the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.


"Records" refers to any medium, including books, documents, maps, drawings, photos, letters, calendars and any other means including digital media, which information is recorded, but does not include a computer program or any other mechanism that produces records.

Personal Information

"Personal information" is recorded information about an identifiable individual. However, the name, business telephone, email or address of an employee is not considered personal information nor is the title or remuneration of a public employee.

Examples of personal information that are often found in records or documents:

  • name, address, telephone number or personal email
  • race, national or ethnic origin, colour and religious or political beliefs or associations
  • age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status or family status
  • identifying number, symbol or other particulars assigned to an individual
  • fingerprints, blood type or inheritable characteristics
  • health care history, including a physical or mental disability, occupational or educational history
  • financial information
  • anyone else’s opinions about the individual
  • an individual’s personal views or opinions, unless they are about someone else.

Third Party

“Third party” in relation to a request for access to a record, means any person, group of persons or organization other than the person who made the request that may have personal privacy or business interests that are potentially impacted by release of the requested information.


"Severing" is removing information in a record from visibility when an exception applies, while nevertheless disclosing the remainder of the record. Also known as “redaction”.


"Exceptions" are limited and specific circumstances that give public bodies authority to withhold information. Exceptions are either mandatory or discretionary under FIPPA.