New Federal Privacy Law Coming on Monday, November 16

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According to the Order Paper for Monday, November 16, 2020, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Navdeep Bains, will be introducing “An Act to enact the Consumer Privacy Protection Act and the Personal Information and Data Protection Tribunal Act and to make consequential and related amendments to other Acts”.

While the legislation is not yet available, we expect it will be a significant overhaul of PIPEDA, right down to changing the name. Changes may also go beyond privacy matters. The federal government has made several moves towards legislation involving similar issues, such as online harassment and the ethical use of data and artificial intelligence, such as the Digital Charter, the parliamentary committee report Towards Privacy by Design: Review of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and the consultation Strengthening Privacy for the Digital Age. In his mandate letter to Minister Bains, the Prime Minister provided broad instructions that Minister Bains could do the following when developing the new statute:

  • Work with the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and the Minister of Canadian Heritage to advance Canada’s Digital Charter and enhance powers for the Privacy Commissioner, with the aim to establish a new set of online rights, including: data portability; the ability to withdraw, remove and erase basic personal data from a platform; the knowledge of how personal data is being used, including with a national advertising registry and the ability to withdraw consent for the sharing or sale of data; the ability to review and challenge the amount of personal data that a company or government has collected; proactive data security requirements; the ability to be informed when personal data is breached with appropriate compensation; and the ability to be free from online discrimination including bias and harassment.
  • With the support of the Minister of Canadian Heritage, create new regulations for large digital companies to better protect the personal data of individuals and encourage greater competition in the digital marketplace. A newly created Data Commissioner will oversee those regulations.
  • With the support of the Minister of Digital Government, continue work on the ethical use of data and digital tools, such as artificial intelligence, for better government.

Further, reform to Canada’s anti-spam legislation stalled three years ago, and while it may be wishful thinking, this may be an opportunity to reignite reform.

What also remains to be seen is how the new law will interact with provincial legislation. While Quebec is the furthest along on reforming its legislation, Ontario’s consultation on producing its own law recently closed, Alberta recently proposed amendments to its Health Information Act, and a special committee considering changes to British Columbia’s Personal Information Protection Act was dissolved for an election. It is not yet clear if there has been any movement towards harmonizing Canada’s patchwork of privacy legislation.

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