Privacy Law Losing Relevance, Commissioner Says

In essence, Canadian privacy laws lack incentive for companies to obey and are losing relevance, said Jennifer Stoddart, the country’s privacy watchdog. The commissioner administers two federal laws-one in each the private and public sectors-pertaining to privacy and the protection of personal information. Throughout her 10 years in office, she has called for reforms to both, without much response from Canada’s lawmakers. “It doesn’t really do anything to deter those who want to misuse Canadians’ privacy, and therefore doesn’t give a marginal advantage to the many corporations that are protecting Canadians’ privacy,” Stoddart said. “If you’re deliberately launching a product that’s misusing peoples’ personal information, collecting their personal information or, indeed as one company was doing, spying on people who rent laptops, there should be some sort of sanction.” As it stands, the office can launch an investigation after receiving a complaint. If the investigation reveals a company was breaking the law, the legislation is written in such a way that if the company comes to an understanding with the commissioner’s office, then that’s that. Stoddart is looking for the ability to slap corporations with heavy fines. Thus far, Parliament has not taken action to address concerns Stoddart has been expressing for the better part of six months.

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