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Canada Dashboard Digest | Notes from the IAPP Canada Managing Director, March 11, 2016 Related reading: Australia and Chinese Taipei join APEC's Cross-Border Privacy Rules System

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On Thursday this week, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada issued a press release associated with his appearance before the House of Commons where he was speaking about Privacy Act reform.

Part of the press release read, “Commissioner Therrien has proposed amending the Privacy Act to, for example:

  • Require that all information sharing be governed by very explicit written agreements.
  • Create an explicit requirement for institutions to safeguard personal information, as well as a legal requirement to report breaches to the OPC.
  • Broaden the grounds to seek a Federal Court review to include all contraventions of the Privacy Act, not just denials of access to personal information.
  • Require government departments to consult the OPC on bills that impact privacy before they are tabled in Parliament.
  • Allow the OPC to report in a more timely and proactive manner on the privacy practices of federal institutions, beyond annual and special reports to Parliament.
  • Extend the application of the Privacy Act to all government institutions, including Ministers’ Offices and the Prime Minister’s Office."

Commissioner Therrien also urged Parliament to consider regulating the collection, use and disclosure of personal information by political parties, but noted the Privacy Act is probably not the best instrument to do this.”

Good start and it’s about time! I hope the people he was speaking to are listening.

And, while I’m not necessarily advocating for this, I do think we should have a debate about a couple of other things that could be added to the Privacy Act: 

What about making it mandatory that government institutions have a chief privacy officer that is duly qualified with the appropriate certifications?

What about providing more meaningful remedies to Canadians whose privacy rights are breached by the government? Heck, maybe there should be statutory remedies, including financial ones!

What do you think could be done to improve the state of affairs in federal public sector privacy, as Parliament discusses this important issue? Let me know and then I hope we can engage further in a bit of a discussion about it in this forum. Share your ideas!

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