Many will have already heard the relatively big news this week: A new bill, S-4, was introduced in the Senate that will amend PIPEDA if it passes. I'm surprised it didn't actually get more news considering the fanfare when the government tabled it.
There is some skepticism about whether or not the government is serious this time around because it has introduced somewhat similar bills in the past only to let them die a slow and painful death. This new bill was introduced in the Senate, and some are speculating that this may have been done to try and get the bill passed quickly.
For sure, these amendments are a long time coming. Many of them are what I call “common-sense fixes." For example, getting the English and French versions of the law to jive with one another a bit better. Other more meaningful fixes are those that mirror the Alberta and British Columbia provisions dealing with employee personal information and business transactions.
The folks at the OPC are probably happy with the proposed amendments that will allow them to enter into compliance agreements with organizations. Essentially, these agreements will allow the OPC to monitor organizations for up to a year after the completion of an investigation to ensure that all recommendations are satisfactorily implemented.
Lastly, I think the codification of a breach notification scheme is a good thing, too. I don’t think this new scheme will have a significant impact because previous guidance from the federal commissioner has been clear that they expect notification to take place even without the codification in the law. So, I think most organizations have already been operating with this scheme in mind. But, getting clarity in any law is always a good thing, so I suppose it is in this case, too.
As far as the “new penalties” go, I again don’t think there’s too much to worry about. Before any penalty could be levied, a matter would have to be referred for criminal prosecution—something that probably won’t happen except in the most egregious cases. This is a far cry from the administrative monetary penalties that can be levied in some European jurisdictions directly by the data protection authority.
So, all in all, pretty good news for privacy in Canada—for some—this week. And when we also read that CRA employees were fired for privacy violations, perhaps privacy is something this government is realizing is a priority issue that people care about.
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