Briefing

Federal privacy commissioner calls for increased investigation and fining powers

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Daniel Therrien’s annual report said the government should make privacy a fundamental right in Canadian law. He wants to proactively inspect companies’ privacy practices—which already applies to federal departments and agencies—and to decide which complaints to pursue, as well as permission to share information with other regulators. The watchdog also said Statistics Canada’s pilot project to collect financial transaction data from banks did not break current laws, but raised “significant privacy concerns.” (The Logic)

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Talking point: In May, the Liberal government proposed additional powers for the privacy commissioner’s office, including to order organizations to preserve records and issue bigger fines for more kinds of violations. But Therrien called those measures “very inefficient” because they require the attorney general’s sign-off before his office can pursue companies in the courts, as it’s doing to enforce its findings against Facebook over the Cambridge Analytica incident. Data privacy is one of the key items on the government’s innovation agenda in the new Parliament, a source told The Logic in November. But Therrien’s report indicates he won’t be satisfied with what Ottawa has planned.