Privacy commissioner repeats call for legislative updates as pandemic moves everything online


The watchdog accepted 761 complaints under the Privacy Act and 289 under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act—the government and consumer laws, respectively—in the 2019–2020 fiscal year, the vast majority of which it determined were well founded, according to its annual report published Thursday. It reiterated recommendations to give regulators rule-making and order-making powers, and to enshrine privacy as a human right in legislation. (The Logic)

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Talking point: “The law is simply not up to protecting our rights in a digital environment,” commissioner Daniel Therrien wrote. COVID-19 has made the gaps more urgent, according to the report, which cited issues like doctor-patient confidentiality for appointments via telemedicine platforms and the scope of protections in public-private partnerships like contract-tracing applications. The privacy commissioner’s office reviewed the federal COVID Alert exposure-notification system before launch; government agencies and businesses alike have sought advance guidance on subjects like benefits deployments and temperature-checking. But Therrien said “rights-based privacy laws” are still necessary to balance protections and technological benefits.