The IPC responds to Ontario’s call for comments on private sector privacy reform

TORONTO, ON (October 16, 2020) – The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPC) has filed a submission in response to the government’s call for comments on its discussion paper, “Ontario Private Sector Privacy Reform: Improving private sector privacy for Ontarians in a digital age.” The government sought input from Ontarians on a number of topics that would serve as the foundation for a modern privacy law for Ontario’s private sector.

The IPC’s submission highlights the key elements of a modern private sector privacy framework capable of rising to the challenges of a digital age and tailored to meet the needs of the people and businesses of Ontario. These include:

  • enhanced transparency and accountability
  • an emphasis on individual privacy rights, with clear consent rules and exceptions
  • an agile regulator with the modern tools needed to support responsible innovation
  • a broad range of enforcement mechanisms

“The global COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated consumer uptake of innovative digital tools and solutions in almost all aspects of our lives, highlighting the urgent need for clear privacy and security guardrails.  The public and private sectors are collaborating as never before to help us tackle the biggest health, social and economic challenges seen in decades,” says Patricia Kosseim, Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario. “All of these developments have laid bare significant regulatory gaps in Ontario that require urgent attention.”

Unlike other provinces that have their own private-sector privacy laws, Ontario does not. Businesses here are subject to a decades-old federal law, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).

The IPC submission also identifies a range of opportunities should Ontario introduce its own private sector legislation, including:

  • broadening the scope of the law to cover organizations that continue to operate in a legislative vacuum due to the constitutional limits of PIPEDA
  • creating predictable rules that support and incentivize innovation and responsible use of data while prohibiting unfair data management practices
  • providing a better integrated and agile oversight mechanism to address complex data challenges
  • rising to the emerging challenges of a digital age in a way that works best for Ontario’s people, businesses, and organizations

“I commend the government for taking on this important initiative,” added Commissioner Kosseim. “The time has come for Ontario to fill important gaps in its existing legislative frameworks and integrate privacy protection across its public, private and health sectors. The opportunity is now to address the increasingly digital landscape through the creation of a modern, made-in-Ontario private sector privacy law that suits our province’s culture, values, and reality.”



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