The Federal Privacy Commissioner appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics in its study on social media and privacy and is calling for greater enforcement powers. Other countries are moving towards more robust enforcement regimes, but Canada is at risk of falling behind and that the existing law – the personal information protection and electronic documents act (PIPEDA) – is too weak. The legislation currently doesn’t require companies to report a privacy breach to the privacy commissioner’s office or to consumers. Current Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart said with barely any penalties for breaching provisions in PIPEDA, there is little incentive for companies to invest in better data protection systems.
“I believe companies take notice … when they are subject to major fines or some kind of enforcement action. We have very limited power in that regard, and I believe more respect would be shown to Canada’s laws if we did have that power,” said Stoddart.