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Canada Dashboard Digest | Notes from the IAPP Canada Managing Director, March 10, 2017 Related reading: Privacy inspection tool finds ad trackers on sensitive nonprofit websites




I have written often about Canada’s privacy laws and their rather weak enforcement model. At the same time, when it’s warranted, I call out a commissioner or court decision that advances privacy interests. However, in July 2014, the privacy commissioner did something I failed to trumpet: The office said the use of genetic testing by the insurance industry would, almost certainly, fail an investigation pursuant to PIPEDA. It was an example of that office being proactive in making some sort of advance ruling on an issue, not something you see every day. There was no complaint, and no investigation. Just a strongly worded piece (quite short and succinct) that says this is bad and it violates PIPEDA.

I suppose the problem with the privacy commissioner’s piece was that it was just that: A statement without force or effect. There was no meaningful way of enforcing what the commissioner was saying. So we should be glad and relieved someone listened!

Fast forward a few years and a politician has taken it upon himself to put some teeth behind the commissioner’s strongly worded (but ultimately limited because of its lack of enforceability) statement. It is a private members bill that is currently before Parliament. There’s a good news story summarized below that every privacy pro should read — and I'm pleased that some of our colleagues have celebrated this on social media — that details some of the pros and cons to passing a bill that enforces the commissioner’s position. More than that, I think every Canadian, needs to know about this issue. It’s no longer the time to say that this or that will happen in the future. These technologies are real and we need laws that keep pace — now. 


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