IAPP-GDPR Web Banners-300x250-FINAL

By Terry McQuay, CIPP, CIPP/C

Federal commissioner addresses CBA

On August 17, the privacy commissioner of Canada, Jennifer Stoddart, spoke at the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) Legal Conference and Expo. In her speech, Ms. Stoddart noted how technological advances have resulted in personal information moving rapidly around the globe, and how this trend has direct implications for lawyers and the legal profession, including the following impacts:

Private-sector privacy laws are affecting the personal information practices of law firms:

  • a decision by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) found that the practice of verifying the solvency of potential defendants by conducting credit checks on them without their consent is contrary to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA);
  • the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta has ruled that even though law firms may act as agents for clients, they are responsible for applying privacy legislations, e.g.:  

          o the web publication of a document with the names, addresses and Social Insurance Numbers of a client firm's employees is a clear violation of such legislation.

The Internet is creating a new context for including peoples' names when decisions of judicial, quasi-judicial and administrative bodies are published:

  • Ms. Stoddart noted that she is not convinced that the broad public needs to know the names of individuals involved or requires access to intimate personal details through decisions posted widely on the Internet;
  • when cases were accessible only in specialized legal texts, or search engines accessible to legal professionals only, the concept of practical obscurity always operated in favour of privacy protection and the need-to-know principle;
  • the educational value of these decisions is not reduced by replacing names with initials.

In the online world, users now generate much of the information that is disseminated about lawyers, for example, through rate-your-lawyer Web sites:

  • Internet postings are not constrained by the traditional ethical policies of journalists.

Lawyers whose work includes privacy can no longer define themselves as practicing in a given jurisdiction, or as an expert in the law of a given province:

  • lawyers need to explain to clients the global reality of regulation and data flow;
  • the OPC is working with its provincial counterparts to coordinate regulation;
  • privacy protection cannot be undertaken on a country-by-country basis. A single, global standard is not necessary, but:

          o we should strive for basic levels of privacy protection around the world with coordinated approaches to regulatory enforcement;
          o the OPC recently intervened at the Appellate level in support of the Federal Trade Commission's enforcement actions against a U.S.-based information broker operating online.

Ms. Stoddart encouraged the Canadian Bar Association to continue to take a very active role in law reform, noting that for many privacy issues—such as identity theft, anti-spam and copyright areas—the CBA's input is critical.

Terry McQuay, CIPP, CIPP/C, is the Founder of Nymity, which offers Web-based privacy support to help organizations control their privacy risks. Learn more at


If you want to comment on this post, you need to login.


Board of Directors

See the esteemed group of leaders shaping the future of the IAPP.

Contact Us

Need someone to talk to? We’re here for you.

IAPP Staff

Looking for someone specific? Visit the staff directory.

Learn more about the IAPP»

Daily Dashboard

The day’s top stories from around the world

Privacy Perspectives

Where the real conversations in privacy happen

The Privacy Advisor

Original reporting and feature articles on the latest privacy developments

Privacy Tracker

Alerts and legal analysis of legislative trends

Privacy Tech

Exploring the technology of privacy

Canada Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top Canadian privacy news

Europe Data Protection Digest

A roundup of the top European data protection news

Asia-Pacific Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top privacy news from the Asia-Pacific region

IAPP Westin Research Center

Original works. Groundbreaking research. Emerging scholars.

Advertise in IAPP Publications

Find out how to get your message in front the people you want to reach. Download a media kit now.

Get more News »

Find a KnowledgeNet Chapter Near You

Network and talk privacy at IAPP KnowledgeNet meetings, taking place worldwide.

Women Leading Privacy

Events, volunteer opportunities and more designed to help you give and get career support and expand your network.

IAPP Job Board

Looking for a new challenge, or need to hire your next privacy pro? The IAPP Job Board is the answer.

Join the Privacy List

Have ideas? Need advice? Subscribe to the Privacy List. It’s crowdsourcing, with an exceptional crowd.

Find more ways to Connect »

Find a Privacy Training Class

Two-day privacy training classes are held around the world. See the complete schedule now.

Online Privacy Training

Build your knowledge. The privacy know-how you need is just a click away.

The Training Post—Can’t-Miss Training Updates

Subscribe now to get the latest alerts on training opportunities around the world.

New Web Conferences Added!

See our list of upcoming web conferences. Just log on, listen in and learn!

Train Your Staff

Get your team up to speed on privacy by bringing IAPP training to your organization.

Learn more »

CIPP Certification

The global standard for the go-to person for privacy laws, regulations and frameworks

CIPM Certification

The first and only privacy certification for professionals who manage day-to-day operations

CIPT Certification

The industry benchmark for IT professionals worldwide to validate their knowledge of privacy requirements

Certify Your Staff

Find out how you can bring the world’s only globally recognized privacy certification to a group in your organization.

Learn more about IAPP certification »

Get Close-up

Looking for tools and info on a hot topic? Our close-up pages organize it for you in one easy-to-find place.

Where's Your DPA?

Our interactive DPA locator helps you find data protection authorities and summary of law by country.

IAPP Westin Research Center

See the latest original research from the IAPP Westin fellows.

Looking for Certification Study Resources?

Find out what you need to prepare for your exams

More Resources »

GDPR Comprehensive: Registration Open

New! Intensive two-day GDPR training led by the sharpest minds in the field. It's a can't-miss event.

The Congress Is Cancelled

The IAPP Europe Data Protection Congress 2015 is cancelled. Click through to learn more.

Sponsor an Event

Increase visibility for your organization—check out sponsorship opportunities today.

Exhibit at an Event

Put your brand in front of the largest gatherings of privacy pros in the world. Learn more.

More Conferences »

Become a Member

Start taking advantage of the many IAPP member benefits today

Corporate Members

See our list of high-profile corporate members—and find out why you should become one, too

Renew Your Membership

Don’t miss out for a minute—continue accessing your benefits

Join the IAPP»