Legislation to ensure that Nova Scotians’ personal information is not disclosed under the U.S. Patriot Act was proclaimed today, Nov. 15. The new Personal Information International Disclosure Protection Act outlines a series of requirements and penalties that protect personal information from inappropriate disclosure. “This legislation will help ensure that Nova Scotians’ personal information will be protected,” said Justice Minister Murray Scott. “The act outlines the responsibilities of public bodies, municipalities and service providers and the consequences if these responsibilities are not fulfilled.” The act provides protection regarding storage, disclosure and access to personal information outside of Canada or in the custody or under the control of a public body or municipality. The legislation comes into effect for government, school boards, universities, district health authorities and other public bodies today and on Nov. 15, 2007 for municipalities. Under the act, the minister of Justice must be notified if there is a foreign demand for disclosure of any personal information of Nova Scotians. It also requires that service providers storing information only collect and use personal information necessary for their work for a public body or municipality. The act also address whistleblower protection for employees of external service providers to ensure they are protected if they report an offense under the act. Whistleblower protection for Nova Scotia government staff already exists under the Civil Service Act. Penalties under the act include up to $2,000 per government employee for malicious disclosure by employees of public bodies and municipalities. The act also creates offences for service providers, with penalties of up to $2,000 for employees and $500,000 for companies. Offences relate to the improper storage, collection, use, or disclosure, failure to notify the minister of Justice of foreign disclosure demands, and improper discipline or termination of employees. Information sessions have been held in Truro and Halifax over the past month to educate partners and stakeholders about the provisions of the act.