PIPEDA and Canadian Businesses

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Personal information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) and your Business. PIPEDA is the federal private sector privacy law. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) oversees PIPEDA as well as the Privacy Act.

The Personal information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) and Privacy Act are the laws established for how federal government institutions and commercial organizations, respectively, handle personal information.

The OPC’s core responsibility is to protect Canadian’s privacy rights. This is done by conducting investigations, promoting awareness and understanding of privacy rights and obligations, and providing advice to Parliament on the potential privacy implications of proposed legislation and government programs.

In brief, PIPEDA is the law that sets out the rules for the collection, use and disclosure of personal information during commercial activities.  Businesses must follow, regardless of their size, Ten (10) Fair Information Principles. They are Accountability, Identifying Purposes, Consent, Limiting Collection, Limiting Use, Disclosure, and Retention, Accuracy, Safeguards, Openness, Individual Access, and Challenging Compliance.

PIPEDA applies to most businesses across Canada except in Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta, where substantially similar Acts have been established, and therefore paramount. But be careful because PIPEDA still covers federally regulated industries, like transportation, telecommunications, and banking. Additionally, all business within Canada that handles personal information that crosses provincial or national boards are subject to PIPEDA, regardless of if you are in a province with substantially similar legislation or not. All Businesses in the three Canadian territories fall under PIPEDA.

Privacy is important because lack of awareness can potentially lead to complaints about your business, which may have an impact on your business’ reputation. Polls show that more than 90% of Canadians are concerned about their privacy.

Your organization is responsible for the personal information under its control. If you need assistance developing and implementing personal information policies and practices, or with training your staff, contact us today.

Source: Speaking Notes for the PIPEDA presentation package for businesses – Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

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