Canada's new privacy law comes with strongest fines among G7 countries

Nov 18 2020, 2:39 pm

The Government of Canada is proposing a new law to better protect citizens’ privacy, and it includes the strongest fines among G7 country’s privacy laws.

Called the Digital Charter Implementation Act, 2020, it was introduced by Navdeep Bains, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, on November 17.

The proposed law would modernize the framework for the protection of personal information in the private sector, according to a government release.

If passed, companies that break the new law can face fines up to 5% of global revenue or $25 million — whichever is greater.

The legislation would increase control and transparency when Canadians’ personal information is handled by companies, and give people the freedom to move their information from one organization to another (between two banks, for example) in a secure manner.

It would also allow people to demand that their information be destroyed by a company, including social media platforms.

The act would grant the Privacy Commissioner broad order-making powers, including the ability to order a company to stop collecting data or using personal information.

The legislation would ensure that even as technology evolves, Canadians will be protected by a modern and responsive law, and that innovative businesses will benefit from clear rules, according to the government.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed how Canadians live, work, access information, and connect with each other, making digital technology more important than ever,” the release said.

“The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that Canadians can interact in this digital space trusting that their personal information is safe and secure and that their privacy is respected.”

In response, James Cumming, Bains’ Conservative Shadow Minister, said that if the Liberal government was serious about protecting data, they would ban Chinese tech giant Huawei from operating on Canada’s 5G networks.

“While other countries have taken decisive action to stand up for the privacy of their citizens and banned Huawei, the Trudeau Liberals have failed to make a decision and stand up for the privacy of Canadians,” Cumming said.

The act advances the government’s Digital Charter and its 10 principles, including control and consent of data.

Currently, Canada has two privacy laws.

The Privacy Act applies to the government’s collection, use, and disclosure of personal information in the course of providing service. It also relates to a person’s right to access and correct personal information that the Government of Canada holds about them.

The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act decides the rules for how private-sector organizations can collect, use, and disclose personal information in the course of for-profit, commercial activities.

The new legislation “builds a foundation of trust and transparency between citizens, companies, and government, while ensuring that innovators and businesses benefit from a modernized framework with clear rules,” the government said.

“The proposed act is an initial step toward a comprehensive reform of Canada’s privacy framework.”

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