New proposed law to better protect Canadians’ privacy, increase their control over their data

NAVDEEP Bains, federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, on Tuesday introduced the proposed Digital Charter Implementation Act, 2020, which modernizes the framework for the protection of personal information in the private sector. 

This legislation takes a number of important steps to ensure that Canadians will be protected by a modern and responsive law and that innovative businesses will benefit from clear rules, even as technology continues to evolve, including:

  • increasing control and transparency when Canadians’ personal information is handled by companies;
  • giving Canadians the freedom to move their information from one organization to another in a secure manner;
  • ensuring that Canadians have the ability to demand that their information be destroyed;
  • providing the Privacy Commissioner with broad order-making powers, including the ability to force an organization to comply and the ability to order a company to stop collecting data or using personal information; and
  • ensuring the strongest fines among G7 privacy laws—with fines of up to 5% of revenue or $25 million, whichever is greater, for the most serious offences.

The proposed Digital Charter Implementation Act, 2020 builds a foundation of trust and transparency between citizens, companies and government, while ensuring that innovators and businesses benefit from a modernized framework with clear rules, says the government.

The proposed act is an initial step toward a comprehensive reform of Canada’s privacy framework. The government is also proposing to modernize the Privacy Act, which applies to the federal public sector and which the Privacy Commissioner of Canada also oversees. 

Bains said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation which is changing how Canadians work, access information, access services, and connect with their loved ones. This transformation is making concerns about privacy, and how companies handle Canadians’ data, more important than ever. As Canadians increasingly rely on technology we need a system where they know how their data is used and where they have control over how it is handled. For Canada to succeed, and for our companies to be able to innovate in this new reality, we need a system founded on trust with clear rules and enforcement. This legislation represents an important step towards achieving this goal.”

Quick facts

  • The Digital Charter Implementation Act, 2020 advances the Digital Charter and its 10 principles.
  • The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada will continue to oversee organizations’ compliance with the privacy law and have the power to issue orders and make recommendations for administrative monetary penalties.
  • A new Personal Information and Data Protection Tribunal will be created to levy these administrative monetary penalties and hear appeals of the orders.