Changes Coming to British Columbia’s Privacy Law

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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“). On June 18, 2019, the Government of Canada launched its National Digital and Data consultations, which led to the development of the Digital Charter in Action: A Plan by Canadians, for Canadians. As part of the Digital Charter Action Plan, Innovation, Science and Economic Development published a discussion paper, Strengthening Privacy for the Digital Age, which included a set of proposals to modernize PIPEDA.

The Paper outlines a series of policy considerations related to specific proposals that would serve to enhance consumers’ control, enable responsible innovation and enhance enforcement.

The Government is also studying potential reforms to the Privacy Act, which governs the personal information-handling practices of federal institutions. That initiative is being led by Justice Canada, working closely with the Treasury Board Secretariat.

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