#CyberFLASH: Canada’s privacy law ‘ill-suited’ to 21st century, watchdog warns Trudeau

1297658073661_ORIGINALOTTAWA—Canada’s privacy watchdog has warned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that federal privacy protections are “ill-suited” for the 21st century.

In a letter obtained by the Star, Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien told Trudeau the rules around government’s handling of private information has not kept up with technological advances or society’s expectations.

The Privacy Act, which governs how the federal government uses Canadians’ personal information, has not been substantially changed since it was introduced in 1983.

When the law was introduced, most government business was conducted on paper. Now, government departments and agencies increasingly hold vast sums of information electronically — bringing a new set of issues, challenges, and vulnerabilities.

“One of the biggest changes in the privacy realm is technology, Canadians’ relationship to it, and the desires by government and industry to harness its power for various purposes,” Therrien wrote in a Nov. 10 letter, obtained under access to information law.

“In this complex, new environment, modernization of our privacy framework and the pressing need for greater transparency around how technology is used is critical to maintaining citizens’ trust in government and the digital economy.”

The Star requested an interview with Therrien but he was unavailable.

This isn’t the first time the issue has been raised with Parliamentarians. In a March 22 letter to the House of Commons committee on privacy issues, Therrien provided 16 recommendations to modernize the Privacy Act — and warned that the legislation is becoming increasingly irrelevant.

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