Statistics Canada’s Microdata Access Portal: Researcher online registration and project application - Privacy impact assessment summary


Statistics Canada is implementing a new web-based application, the Microdata Access Portal (MAP), which will allow researchers (federal, provincial and academic) to apply for access to Statistics Canada’s microdata files, and manage their project application. Through the MAP, researchers will also be able to track the status of their application as it is being processed.


Currently, there are several methods by which research proposals are submitted to various Statistics Canada divisions. As the new single point of entry to register and submit a project proposal, the MAP will accommodate the different processes and requirements in one place, improving users’ experience and the efficiency of Statistics Canada’s administrative processes. The MAP will only be used for new proposals submitted on or after the release date of the portal. Proposals from previous systems will not be migrated to the MAP.


A Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) was conducted to identify and address any potential privacy risks associated with the personal information of researchers who submit proposals through the MAP.

Risk Area Identification and Categorization

The PIA identifies the level of potential risk (level 1 is the lowest level of potential risk and level 4 is the highest) associated with the following risk areas:

  Risk scale
a) Type of program or activity
Administration of program or activity and services. 2
b) Type of personal information involved and context
Only personal information, with no contextual sensitivities, collected directly from the individual or provided with the consent of the individual for disclosure under an authorized program. 1
c) Program or activity partners and private sector involvement
With other institutions or a combination of federal, provincial or territorial, and municipal governments. 3
d) Duration of the program or activity
Long-term program or activity (ongoing). 3
e) Program population
The program's use of personal information for internal administrative purposes affects certain employees. 3
f) Personal information transmission
The personal information is used in a system that has connections to at least one other system. 2
g) Technology and privacy
This activity requires a new on-line application to support several programs/activities to collect and handle personal information. The functionality would include but will not be limited to: capturing information through online forms, storing information in an electronic database, allowing access to the collected information by Statistics Canada staff for integration into other systems, and allowing limited access by researchers to manage their own profiles and projects. The application will not be created using new software.
h) Potential risk that in the event of a privacy breach, there will be an impact on the individual or employee.
There is a low risk of a breach of some of the personal information being disclosed without proper authorization. The impact on the individual would be low given the low sensitivity of the information provided in the application.


The assessment of Statistics Canada’s Microdata Access Portal: Researcher online registration and project application, did not identify any privacy risks that cannot be managed using existing safeguards.

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