Private Member Bill Seeks to Bring Long Overdue Privacy Protections for Canadians

- 2013-02-27 -

CIPPIC welcomed the announcement of private member's Bill C-475, which proposed amendments to Canada’s federal privacy legislation, PIPEDA. The proposals will bring long overdue privacy protections for Canadians, including a comprehensive data breach notification regime and, critically, much needed enforcement powers for Canada’s privacy laws.

A long-enduring and central gap in Canada’s privacy protections is the ongoing inability of the Privacy Commissioner to force non-compliant organizations to meet their privacy obligations. Even as our Courts, our provincial legislatures, and most of our international counterparts have recognized the increasing need to protect privacy in a digital era, our federal privacy regime remains toothless and our federal Privacy Commissioner lacks the basic power to enforce her own compliance orders. The lack of any realistic possibility of penalties for ignoring PIPEDA means there is minimal incentive for proactive compliance with the Act, urging instead a 'wait and see if we get caught' approach. Lack of clear enforcement and penalty power is particularly problematic when dealing with large international companies with a significant Canadian presence.

In addition, the lack of a comprehensive data breach notification regime puts Canadians personal information at great risk. Experience from jurisdictions around the world has demonstrated that a legal obligation to notify individuals when their data has been put at risk is an essential component of any privacy protection regime. Not only does this notification requirement provide an opportunity for individuals to take protective measures against privacy harms ranging from identity theft to great embarrassment, but it also provides a poignant incentive for organizations to put in place the practical and technical mechanisms necessary to avoid such breaches in the first place.

This private members bill, introduced by Charmaine Borg, MP (Terrebonne-Blainville)(NDP), fills these gaps in our federal privacy regime that have been left open for far too long.

  • CIPPIC's Press Release in support of the Private Member's Bill
  • Bill C-475, An Act to amend the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (order-making power)