British Columbia Modifies Data Residency Requirements in Response to COVID-19

British Columbia has temporarily modified its Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c.165 (“FIPPA“) to lift a requirement that personal information handled by public sector agencies, and service providers to those public sector agencies, be kept in Canada.

Under the Order, made on March 26, 2020, “health care bodies”, the Province and certain provincial health-related authorities and ministries may now disclose personal information inside or outside of Canada in accordance with s. 33.2(a) and (c) of FIPPA on the condition that the disclosure is necessary:

a. for the purposes of communicating with individuals respecting COVID-19,
b.

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Changes Coming to British Columbia’s Privacy Law

On February 18, 2020, the British Columbia Legislature appointed a special committee to review that province’s Personal Information Protection Act (“PIPA“), the private sector privacy law applicable to British Columbia organizations.

PIPA came into effect in January 2004, and pursuant to s. 59, a special committee must review the Act every 6 years and submit a report. The report may include recommended amendments. In a period in which numerous privacy laws, both domestic and international are being revised, the move by the province comes as no surprise.

Also under review in a separate process is the federal private sector legislation, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (“PIPEDA“).

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