Parliamentary Report Calls for Stronger Federal Data Protection Laws

    Jan 10, 2017

    The House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics released a report on December 12 that calls for new legislation to require federal agencies to properly protect personal data and to report breaches in a timely manner. The committee undertook an eight-month study of the Privacy Act, which governs the personal information-handling practices of federal government institutions, and also provides for permanent parliamentary review of the act.

    “Since the Privacy Act came into force in 1983, technology and the privacy environment have changed dramatically,” stated a committee press release. “Yet the Privacy Act has not been modernized accordingly. The Committee’s recommendations aim to reform the Privacy Act with respect to three main themes: technological changes, legislative modernization and enhanced transparency.”

    The basis of the committee’s study and 28 legislative recommendations came from input submitted by the privacy commissioner of canada, Daniel Therrien. Those recommendations include a requirement that certain information sharing be governed by written agreements which include specified elements; explicit requirements for institutions to safeguard personal information and to report material breaches to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada in a timely manner; an explicit requirement for government institutions to notify affected individuals of material breaches of personal information, except in appropriate cases; the establishment of clear rules governing the collection and protection of personal information that is collected on the Internet and through social media; and the granting of expanded authorities to the privacy commissioner to conduct research and studies on issues of public importance, and to undertake public education and awareness activities.

     This monthly advisory contains brief summaries of recent legislative and regulatory issues that may affect the management of records and information in Canada.

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