Will Privacy Reform be on the Table this Thanksgiving?
Traditionally, October is known for turkeys and pumpkins. It’s also Cyber Security Awareness month. As Covid-19 continues to impact all of us, we are increasingly relying on digital services. While technology has enabled us to continue to work, study, and socialize by moving on-line, we need to be mindful of the risks of digital life.
We take protecting our customers’ personal information very seriously and have put in place strict policies and procedures to safeguard their information. We know that privacy protection and cyber security go hand in hand. As more and more personal information is processed or stored online, cyber security measures underpin critical infrastructure that protects personal information.
This month, as we contemplate staying safe online, is also a good time to think about the legislation that is in place to protect our private information, which needs to be effective and up-to-date. The goal is to allow individuals to benefit from digital services, while remaining safe and confident that their privacy rights are respected.
There are a number of key pillars that must be in place to keep everyone safe online, including education, awareness, enforcement, and legislation.
Many organizations including Media Smarts, the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security and the Canadian Centre for Child Protection do excellent education and awareness work.
Law enforcement professionals also work diligently to bring the criminals behind digital scams to justice.
Legislation helps to protect the private information of Canadians through acts such as Canada’s Anti-Spam Law “CASL” and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act “PIPEDA”, as well as provincial privacy legislation.
To keep up with advances in technology and how it is used in our daily lives, federal privacy legislation needs modernization. Stakeholders agree, among them the Privacy Commissioner of Canada who addressed this in his Annual Report released yesterday, that events of this past year have highlighted the urgent need for reform.
Government officials have indicated that an announcement from the Hon, Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, who is responsible for federal privacy legislation, is coming soon. We look forward to legislation that will provide a consistent framework across the country.
Some provinces have already moved ahead on their own. The government of Quebec has tabled Bill C64 to modernize privacy rules and Ontario is now consulting on privacy reform. British Columbia. and Alberta have their own private sector legislation. A single federal privacy framework would ensure that Canadians and businesses can clearly understand their rights and responsibilities.
We are a strong advocate of PIPEDA modernization, and have participated in ongoing dialogue with Government, as it worked to craft reforms. We favour a single set of privacy requirements and continue to support three key principles:
- Continuation of PIPEDA as a law of general principles. This put Canada on the privacy map, and it will ensure that privacy legislation does not become overly burdensome or prescriptive thereby allowing innovation to flourish.
- Clarity and Trust. Trust is a key enabler of digital innovation. A clear and easy to understand law will benefit consumers and businesses alike. Awareness and training accompanied by better engagement between the regulator and the private sector will contribute to an increase in consumer confidence with the digital economy.
- Oversight and Accountability. For businesses to thrive, they require a regulatory environment that is fair and transparent. Regulators need to be accountable and administer the law in a manner that does not disrupt or disadvantage Canadian businesses’ ability to compete in the global digital economy.
In order for Canada to position itself as a digital innovation leader, we need to demonstrate we can establish a framework for innovation that also successfully protects Canadian values and rights. With so much global uncertainty we hope that we will soon see some indication from Government that PIPEDA reform is as certain as turkey on the table at Thanksgiving and finding treats at a home with a glowing jack-o-lantern.
Deborah Evans is Chief Privacy Officer at Rogers.