In the recent past, Canada’s privacy laws offered little personal protection even though the increasing use of smart devices posed a serious threat to citizens. The privacy laws were limited and very old, as many were implemented and never updated to reflect current technology and usage.

Of course, years ago the list of devices was limited to digital devices such as smartphones, tablets, and the like. Now the list includes time-saving appliances such as kitchen appliances, fitness devices, and light bulbs that are connected to a network within each household. The current usage varies, but this is the future. Wireless voice- and remote-activated devices are being built into new and remodelled homes and within the next couple of decades, most households will have been using more than ten devices. It makes sense that privacy has continued to become an enormous issue. Privacy invasion is real and is cause for concern.

Since most of these devices are made to provide the ultimate in convenience, they utilize the “Internet of Things (loT)”, which is the system for connecting physical devices via WiFi, Bluetooth, and smartphone apps. However, the convenience comes at a cost and most consumers are not aware of the privacy issues that invade their cyberspace. This is largely due to the cumbersome and unreadable Privacy Policies provided by each device manufacturer, software developer, and Internet website.

Canada’s Privacy Laws

In the past, privacy laws were simple. For example, manufacturers were not allowed to provide personal customer information to outside parties. Until recently, the laws did not target today’s algorithms that can grab information and then use the re-identification process to break it down into smaller chunks of personal data.

Now, Canada has chosen to align their requirements with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union. The new regulations, known as the Digital Privacy Act, came into effect on November 1, 2018 via the Breach of Security Safeguards Regulations. They are directed at Canadian organizations and other organizations doing business in Canada that are subject to following the Personal Information & Data Privacy in Canada (PIPEDA).

This mandate requires reporting and recording of privacy breaches, as written in PIPEDA. As such, organizations that are subject to PIPEDA will need to address and comply with the new regulations. This includes:

  • Risk Assessment: Companies will have to assess the risk of a data breach.
  • Data Breach Notification: If the risk is deemed high, the company must notify affected individuals, others, and the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.
  • Record Keeping: Companies must record and keep records of every breach for at least 24 months. The records must include information that the Commissioner can review to verify compliance. This includes all security and personal data breaches.

Your Privacy Rights

In Canada, your right to privacy is included in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Even though it does not specifically protect personal information, there are other laws that set rules for how personal information is handled. The updated PIPEDA is one of them and the Privacy Act is the other.

PIPEDA protects personal information which includes:

  • Name, race, ethnic origin, religion, marital status, educational level
  • E-mail address and messages, IP (Internet protocol) address
  • Age, height, weight, medical records, blood type, DNA code, fingerprints, voiceprint
  • Income, purchases, spending habits, banking information, credit/debit card data, loan or credit reports, tax returns
  • Social Insurance Number (SIN) or other identification numbers

The Privacy Act covers the personal information collected, used, and disclosed by federal government institutions.

Sicotte & Sandhu on Your Side

If you feel your privacy has been compromised without consent or you have inadvertently compromised others’ privacy, legal council can help. The experienced lawyers at Sicotte & Sandhu are experts at uncovering the details and nuances that can often make or break a case. Start now by contacting us for a free consultation. We can then determine the best legal route for your specific situation. Call 604-585-8898 or Contact Us here.