Over the past several weeks, there have been several important privacy developments in Canada including troubling privacy practices at well-known organizations such as the CBC and Tim Hortons, a call from business organizations for privacy reform, the nomination of a new privacy commissioner with little privacy experience, and a decision by a Senate committee to effectively overrule the government on border privacy rules. These developments raise the puzzling question of why the federal government – led by Innovation, Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, and Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez – are so indifferent to privacy, at best treating it as a low priority issue and at worst proposing dangerous measures or seemingly hoping to cash in on weak privacy laws in order to fund other policy priorities.
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Why the Government’s New Telecom Policy Directive Means More of the Same for Canada’s Communications Competition Woes
Innovation, Science and Industry François-Philippe Champagne unveiled the government’s proposed new telecom policy directive yesterday, hailing it as a “historic step.” However, a closer look at the policy suggests that the only thing that is history are any immediate hopes for a more competitive communications marketplace in Canada. Once again, the government has shown itself unwilling to take a strong stand in favour of consumers and competition, instead releasing a directive that largely retains the status quo and sends the message to CRTC Chair Ian Scott to stay the course. Indeed, the primary purpose behind the announcement would appear to be an attempt to shield the government from criticism over its decision to leave the controversial CRTC decision on wholesale Internet access intact, thereby denying consumers the prospect of lower costs for Internet services.
Canada’s Access to Information Open Data Fail: Departments Months Behind Posting Summaries of Completed Requests
The Liberal government has emphasized the importance of open data and open government policies for years, yet the government has at times disappointed in ways both big (Canada’s access-to-information laws are desperately in need of updating and the current bill does not come close to solving its shortcomings) and small (restrictive licensing and failure to comply with access to information disclosures).
With security breaches regularly affecting millions (or even billions) of people, effective security breach disclosure rules are an essential part of a modern privacy law framework. It may surprise many to learn that Canada still does not have mandatory security breach disclosure rules that require companies to notify affected individuals in effect. Rules were passed in 2015, but the accompanying regulations were puzzlingly slow to emerge. The government finally released proposed regulations late in the summer with a consultation that closed earlier this week. My submission, which focused on implementation, content of notices, and proposed “indirect” notification, is posted below.