Trudeau government ready to introduce new privacy law


OTTAWA – The Trudeau government is about to introduce legislation to better protect the privacy of Canadians in the digital age. The bill, which will be tabled this week, would constitute a step towards fulfilling the commitments set out in the mandate letter of Minister of Innovation Navdeep Bains.

It would also flesh out the 10 principles – from data control to significant penalties for the misuse of information – that make up the federal digital charter.

The legislative review plan follows repeated calls by Federal Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien to modernize Canada’s aging privacy laws.

The Liberals signaled in the parliamentary notice slip to introduce a bill that would create the Consumer Privacy Protection Act and the Personal Information and Data Protection Tribunal Act.

It is not immediately clear how the new legislation would fit into existing federal privacy laws.

The Privacy Act covers government agencies and federally regulated industries such as banks and airlines. The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act applies to private sector organizations.

Therrien says Canada’s information protection laws lag behind many around the world.

He called for a new authority to issue binding orders on businesses and to impose fines for breaching privacy laws. Therrien also wants powers to inspect organizations’ information handling practices.

John Power, a spokesperson for Bains, said last month that Canadians are understandably worried about how their data is being used in an increasingly digital world, adding that the government was preparing to strengthen the law on protection of private sector privacy.

“Our government will ensure the privacy of Canadians, support responsible innovation and strengthen reasonable enforcement powers,” he said.

“We hope to have more to say about this soon. ”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has asked Bains to work with other ministers to advance the digital charter and strengthen the powers of the Privacy Commissioner with the overarching goal of establishing a new set of rights online.

They should include:

  • the ability to remove, delete and erase basic personal data from a platform, such as Facebook or Twitter;

  • knowledge of how personal data is used, including through a national advertising registry;

  • the ability to review and challenge the amount of personal data that a business or government has collected;

  • a means of informing individuals in the event of a personal data breach, with appropriate compensation;

  • and the ability to be free from online discrimination, including prejudice and harassment.

Rachel Rappaport, spokesperson for Justice Minister David Lametti, said last month that the government is committed to reviewing the Privacy Act to ensure it keeps pace with the effects of change technology and the evolution of Canadian values.

The government has already solicited views from experts and interested parties, and plans to consult with the general public soon, she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on November 16, 2020.


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