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Modernizing Privacy Law in Canada – Striking the Right Balance

PPT | Jan 17, 2022

PPT debating privacy laws in canada - Modernizing Privacy Law in Canada - Striking the Right BalanceIn fall 2021, the Public Policy Forum convened a group of academics, lawyers, representatives from the private sector and members of civil society to revive discussions around modernizing privacy law in Canada under the Chatham House rule.

Overview

In fall 2021, the Public Policy Forum convened a group of academics, lawyers, representatives from the private sector and members of civil society to revive discussions around modernizing privacy law in Canada under the Chatham House rule. These conversations sought to explore five key questions of interest:

  1. How is Canada situated compared to other jurisdictions and countries, and with respect to inter-provincial differences?
  2. What are the priorities for changes to a modified Bill C-11: An Act to enact the Consumer Privacy Protection Act and the Personal Information and Data Protection Tribunal Act and to make consequential and related amendments to other Acts?
  3. Where are the widest gaps among experts and stakeholders on C-11, and are there different approaches, directions or principles that will help bridge them in effective legislation?
  4. Are there steps outside of modernized legislation that the private sector should be taking?
  5. Can a human rights approach co-exist with data-driven, private sector innovation?

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On the question of how Canada is situated compared to other countries and jurisdictions, and with respect to inter-provincial differences, many participants expressed concern that a “patchwork” of frameworks are emerging as a few provinces (Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec) have started to take the lead in modernizing Canada’s private-sector privacy laws. This may be an expression of policy impatience, whereby provinces are unwilling to “wait” for Canada’s federal government to modernize privacy law (through a revised Bill C-11) and instead seek to solve perceived gaps in private-sector privacy regulations.

So while this is a national conversation, it is increasingly a provincial one as well. Though the word “patchwork” came up with some frequency, it is possible to reframe this federated approach more positively as a productive opportunity for inter-provincial collaboration to develop a truly pan-Canadian, harmonized and interoperable private-sector privacy law that can both better protect Canadians’ privacy rights and better support innovation and the growth of business.

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