The Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Jennifer Stoddart, recently completed her 2006-2007 Annual Report to Parliament on Canada’s Privacy Act (the “Act”), one of two federal privacy laws (the other being the Personal Information Protection and Electronics Documents Act). Since 1983, the Act has sought to protect the personal information of individuals collected by government institutions, ensuring that Canadians can access and challenge the accuracy of information collected about them. According to the Report, there is an urgent need to reform the Act since it appears ill-equipped to deal with privacy problems in connection with technological advancements that were never considered when the original legislation was framed, such as the Internet, GPS and RFIDs.
The Report further recommends specific attention to “Fair Information Principles” which will seek to protect private information held by online government systems. Another concern raised was transborder data flows to offshore locations whereby data leaving Canada may become subject to the laws of a foreign country, including search and seizure. The Report, therefore, concluded that the Act should be amended to balance the government’s need for transborder disclosure of information with the demands of Canadians that their information be protected according to national standards.
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