Lexpert Magazine

July 2019

Lexpert magazine features articles and columns on developments in legal practice management, deals and lawsuits of interest in Canada, the law and business issues of interest to legal professionals and businesses that purchase legal services.

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LEXPERT MAGAZINE | JULY 2019 21 be focusing on is data privacy. is is not a big surprise. Canada's federal privacy law is some 20 years old. And while two decades might not be that long a period for some legislation, in the digital realm that same period of time has been an eon. Moreover, the current privacy law has its origins in a 'voluntary privacy code' that was morphed into law in a hurried manner because the government of the day needed something in place in a big hurry. It was not – and is not – the most elegant statute on the books. Bottom line, it is showing its age. So, what can we expect to see in the new legislation? Most likely, some new provi- sions related to enforcement. ere is a strong consensus in Ottawa, and in many other centres in the country where internet privacy issues are debated, that is highly critical of the lack of enforcement powers for the Office of the Privacy Commissioner in the current statute. By contrast, for ex- ample, the fairly new European privacy law that came into effect last year, provides for a maximum fine equal to 4 % of the world- wide sales of the company that breached the statute. at provision alone has caught The Digital Charter does give a good sense of a number of principles that the federal government will be pursuing the attention of the global technology community, and it is driving behavioural change for sure. Beyond Consent Another issue that likely will be the subject of a new provision or two relates to consent. In many ways, the principle of consent is the cornerstone of our current law. e core requirement in the statute is that a com- pany or other organization cannot collect, use or share a person's personal information without their consent. And there is indeed much to commend – still to this day – this bedrock rule. On the other hand, there is widespread recognition that in many digi- tal environments, the scope for asking, and receiving, meaningful consent is very low, Canadian Privacy Law To Change Earlier this year (May, 2019), the federal government unveiled its so-called "Digi- tal Charter", a group of ten principles that the current government intends to pursue, presumably if it is re-elected in the Fall. It`s a far-reaching document, and virtually all Canadians (as individuals) and Canadian businesses and other organizations will be impacted (subject to the specific provisions, when they are released, likely within 12-18 months aer the election (assuming the Liberals win re-election; but digital issues are garnering so much attention nowadays, one presumes that if another party wins the upcoming election, it will also make the thrust of the Digital Charter a priority). It is of course too early to tell with any specificity what exactly would be in the new legislation when (and if ) it is ulti- mately introduced in the House of Com- mons. On the other hand, the Digital Charter does give a good sense of a number of principles that the federal government will be pursuing. Privacy Law Overhaul One area that the government seems to By John Smith TECHNOLOGY COLUMNS PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

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