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Federal privacy laws to be reviewed

Privacy Commissioner releases discussion paper


he Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act ( PIPEDA) is up for a mandatory parliamentary review in 2006, and t he federal Privacy Commissioner has released a discussion paper describing several issues she has identified for consideration. PIPEDA is the legislation that covers the use of consumers’ personal information by the private sector.

“PIPEDA appears to be working reasonably well, although gaps have appeared that were not anticipated when it was drafted several years ago,” states the discussion document. “Some of PIPEDA’s provisions may need to be reconsidered in light of experience, including the experience we have observed with substantially similar provincial privacy legislation. PIPEDA’s provisions may not be as effective at protecting privacy as its drafters had hoped.”

The paper suggests several procedural changes and minor improvements may be required to smooth the operation of the Act. It asks whether the existing “ombudsman” role of the Commissioner is adequate, or whether enhanced powers are required.

The paper also looks at the issue of consent – including the collection and disclosure of employee data by employers, and the disclosure of personal information to investigative bodies – and whether businesses should be required to notify consumers in situations where their personal information may have been compromised.

In its current form, PIPEDA does not allow an organization to disclose personal information to prospective purchasers or business partners without the consent of the individual affected. The paper asks whether the Act should allow an organization in possession of personal information to disclose that information to a prospective purchaser or business partner, and whether the Act should be amended to allow the transfer of personal information from an organization to a prospective purchaser or business partner.

“Besides challenges within the legislation itself, changes in society necessitate rethinking some aspects of PIPEDA,” notes the discussion paper. “These changes have occurred on many fronts – for example, the expansion in transborder flows of personal information, spyware, illegal data trafficking, increased threats to the security of computer systems and the growing interest of government agencies in personal information held by the private sector.”

CREA will be reviewing the discussion paper in detail over the summer. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada will be accepting comments on the discussion paper and other suggestions for reform of PIPEDA until September 7 th. To view the complete discussion paper, visit http://www.privcom.gc.ca/information/pub/pipeda_review_060718_e.asp.

July 20, 2006 | Permalink


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