The Federal Privacy Act is about 40 years old. It hasn’t been substantially updated since its inception. That means that the policy thinking that went into the law pre-dates even the OECD’s eight privacy principles — not to mention technologies like cloud computing, social media, big data, artificial intelligence or even the fax machine and floppy disk drive! (What are those, you may ask.)
It’s an embarrassment that the government is held to such a low standard and it needs to change.
To this end, the Department of Justice has launched a public consultation, and we write about it below. If you’re inclined to make a submission, here are some ideas of what you might want the government to start doing:
- Make it a legal requirement to safeguard personal information and come up with retention schedules.
- Make it a legal requirement to report government data breaches.
- Provide more meaningful remedies to individuals when their privacy rights are violated.
- Make it a legal requirement that before collecting personal information, it is necessary for an authorized program that serves the public interest.
- Make it mandatory to conduct privacy impact assessments.
- Make it clear when and how government institutions can share personal information among themselves.
- Give the privacy commissioner more enforcement options.
I could go on, but hopefully, my little list has got you thinking. Many of these issues are private-sector requirements and our government institutions should be legally required to do at least the same.
The consultation period ends on Valentine’s Day, so you still have a bit of time to (a) provide your opinion and (b) come up with a fun at-home V-Day celebration during these pandemic-lockdowns. Come on, get creative! And give the Department of Justice a little love — show them you care about this stuff.
Let’s hope that the consultation results in real momentum to get this done. I, for one, look forward to learning more about the contributions to this first phase and, now that the floodgates have been opened, they can’t really go backward. That’s a good thing because this is all long overdue and it’s giving me a lot of gray hair.
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