Legislation to overhaul Privacy Act said to be coming as soon as this week

By: Terry Haig
Canada’s federal government plans to introduce a bill to overhaul Canada’s privacy laws, possibly as soon as this week, according to media reports from Ottawa.
The bill would be the first major attempt to change Canada’s Privacy Act in decades and follows repeated calls from Privacy Commissioner of Canada Daniel Therrien to modernize Canada’s aging privacy laws.
The Canadian Pres reports that the legislation would flesh out the 10 principles–from control over data to meaningful penalties for misuse of information–that make up the federal government’s so-called “digital charter.”
Details of the bill won’t be available until the legislation is tabled, but the CBC’s Catharine Tunney reports that a spokesperson for Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Navdeep Bains pointed to the promises outlined in the minister’s mandate letter.
The prime minister also asked Bains to introduce new regulations for large digital companies to better protect Canadians’ personal data, encourage more more competition in the digital marketplace, and appoint a new data commissioner to oversee those regulations.
CP says the updated legislation includes:

  • the ability to withdraw, remove and erase basic personal data from a platform, such as Facebook or Twitter;
  • knowledge of how personal data is being used, including through a national advertising registry;
  • the ability to review and challenge the amount of personal data that a company or government has collected;
  • a means of informing people when personal data is breached, with appropriate compensation;
  • and the ability to be free from online discrimination including bias and harassment.

A report in August found that the average cost of data breaches in Canada had risen 6.7 per cent since 2019 totalling $6.35 million.
It is not immediately clear how the new legislation would mesh with existing federal privacy laws.
The Privacy Act covers government agencies and federally regulated industries such as banks and airlines. The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act applies to private-sector organizations.
Last week, a prominent Canadian think tank said urgent action was needed to safeguard Canadians’ most sensitive information, which is stored by social media platforms, warning that people’s social media data can be transferred outside Canada to nations that do not do enough to protect individual privacy and that Canadian privacy laws do not protect data sent abroad.