Briefing

Federal privacy commissioner says government ‘slow to act’ on legal framework for personal data

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In a written submission to the government’s National Digital and Data Consultations, Daniel Therrien proposed that any new law include “enforceable rights” for individuals, and that his office be given the ability to compel disclosure and issue fines to organizations that fail to comply. He also reiterated his call that Canadian political parties be subject to privacy laws. (Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada)

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Talking point: Therrien’s office is currently investigating two instances of the use of personal information that have caused widespread concern: the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal, and Statistics Canada’s proposed pilot project using banking data. The enforcement powers he’s seeking were also recommended by a House of Commons committee reviewing federal privacy regulation. And, they’re similar to those recently given to Britain’s privacy commissioner, Elizabeth Denham. Denham was interim privacy commissioner in Canada in 2008, and issued a report on Facebook’s handling of user data that foreshadowed the current scandal. Back then, the company treated her report and recommendations “as more like advice,” Denham told the International Grand Committee on Disinformation last week.