On October 16th, CCLA made submissions in response to the Ontario government’s call for input on a new law that would regulate privacy in Ontario’s private sector. The law, if it comes to pass, will likely be a major overhaul of Ontario’s legal framework for privacy, which it currently borrows from the federal act PIPEDA. The prospect of a new law offers Ontario a chance to not just repair longstanding gaps in its privacy regime, but also a chance to become a privacy leader in Canada too.
In its submissions, CCLA highlighted the benefits of Ontario recognizing privacy as a human right and the pressing need to protect workers’ privacy—especially when COVID has so many people working from home. Ontario also needs a framework that addresses young people’s unique privacy interests, as well as political parties’ urgent need for new privacy regulations. Elections’ integrity begins with people having free and fair access to elections and government offices. As we have seen many times in the past few years, political parties and interest groups are vulnerable to abusing electors’ privacy and personal information. Without stronger privacy regulations, political parties—or the powers which influence them—might end up choosing their voters rather than the other way around.
The province’s discussion paper for the consultation signaledthat the government is both sensitive to gaps in Ontario’s current privacy regime and open to innovative new approachesin privacy law. With this in mind, CCLA proposed that the government consider new powers for the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario. We recommended that the Commissioner’s toolbox should include the powers to investigate privacy breaches and to issue fines as a proportion of an offending company’s global revenue. These changes are exactly what Ontario will need if its new law is to have any teeth.
CCLA also recommendedthat the new law apply to non-commercial organizations, such as Not-For-Profits and charities (including CCLA). As a corollary, we recommended increasing the Commissioner’s budget to accommodate this new mandate.
We look forward to providing more insight and commentary on Ontario’s privacy laws as they develop.
About the Canadian Civil Liberties Association
The CCLA is an independent, non-profit organization with supporters from across the country. Founded in 1964, the CCLA is a national human rights organization committed to defending the rights, dignity, safety, and freedoms of all people in Canada.
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