#CyberFLASH: Privacy Class Actions are on the Rise in Canada

Close up of wooden gavel at the computer keyboardThere is a new trend in Canada towards privacy class actions being launched following a cybersecurity breach or an improper disclosure of personal information. Indeed, privacy class actions triggered by data breaches are growing in popularity in Canada, with between twenty and thirty privacy class actions currently pending or already certified. These lawsuits follow either a cybersecurity or another similar data security breach, or the launch of a new privacy-sensitive product or innovative marketing program.

On the data security front, businesses, particularly small to mid-size entities, often lack breach response policies, proper governance tools, and employee privacy training programs to prevent or promptly respond to breaches. They lack cybersecurity preparedness, which makes them vulnerable to privacy class actions following a security breach involving personal information.

On the privacy front, many businesses have recently received bad press because of new advertising programs, online business models and services. Canadian businesses have been capturing and analyzing large amounts of data for years and they are now at the point where they want to use this data. For instance, they are looking to sell analytic tools allowing others to obtain more insights into their (actual or potential) customers or to provide more personalized products, services or advertising, both online (i.e. mobile) and offline, sometimes even using location data.

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