Strange times. This week has been a flurry of awful news related to the pandemic caused by COVID-19. It has affected just about everyone in every sector, and the privacy industry was not left unscathed. For the first time ever, we aren’t going to be gathering in D.C. this spring, and I know that, for me, that leaves a big hole to be filled, because I very much looked forward to catching up with so many of you, not to mention how impressive that keynote lineup was. If you have any questions, an FAQ page is available here.
Back in 2009, the H1N1 virus caused a similar scene. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner took the opportunity to write some guidance about how to deal with privacy issues in times of a pandemic. Their blog post is here, but their actual guidance documents have been taken down because they are updating them. I suspect someone is working quite quickly on that assignment considering all that is going on.
In other news, I mentioned on LinkedIn this past week that the Competition Bureau seems interested in playing a larger role to protect privacy rights by enforcing against unfair and deceptive trade practices that lure people into providing their personal information. I’ve long thought the Competition Bureau could be doing so much more in Canada to protect privacy, so this was, in my opinion, a welcome announcement. When you relate our Competition Bureau to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, we pale in comparison to how effective the unfair and deceptive trade practice regulation can be.
Case in point was the dating service that created a fake seal they posted on their website to provide a false sense to anyone signing up that their personal information was going to be adequately protected. The net result of the privacy commissioner’s investigation in this case was a harsh slap to the wrist. If the Competition Bureau had been involved, it might have resulted in a more meaningful consequence, because when you commit an unfair or deceptive trade practice (like using a fake seal), the regulator can issue a significant fine.
In any event, we have a little story below that summarizes what the Competition Bureau had to say. So, squirt a bit more hand sanitizer and scroll down.
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