Canada’s federal privacy law is only 12 years old but it needs to be overhauled, says the country’s privacy commissioner.
“As organizations find new ways to profit from personal information, the risks to privacy are growing exponentially,” Jennifer Stoddart said Thursday in Toronto at a conference of the International Association of Privacy Professionals.
“It is increasingly clear that the law is not up to the task of meeting the challenges of today – and certainly not those of tomorrow.”
When the Personal Information Protection and Electronics Documents Act (PIPEDA) was enacted, there was no Facebook, Twitter or Google Street View, she noted. “Phones weren’t smart. ‘The cloud’ was something that threatened picnic plans.
“The world has changed, and while my office has had some successes in prompting companies to improve their privacy practices, improvement often comes after the fact and after our office has invested significant resources. Too often, privacy is an afterthought,” she says.
“The purpose of our privacy law – to balance privacy and legitimate business needs – is no longer being met. The legislation lacks mechanisms strong enough to ensure organizations invest appropriately in privacy. As a result, consumer trust in the digital economy is at risk.”
Enshrine data breach guidelines in law: Stoddart
Stoddard released a report detailing arguments for what needs to be changed and why. (To read the report click here). They include:
Too often, the privacy rights of individuals are displaced by organizations’ business needs, the report concludes. At this stage in PIPEDA’s evolution, incentives are needed to encourage organizations to build robust privacy compliance in the early stages of product or service development and sanctions should be levied in the event something goes wrong.