Because it pushes increasingly more Canadians on-line to work and store, the COVID-19 pandemic is demonstrating the necessity for higher legal guidelines on knowledge use and privateness, the nation’s privateness watchdog warned MPs at this time.
“This yr, the COVID-19 pandemic makes the numerous gaps in our legislative framework all of the extra hanging,” wrote Privateness Commissioner Daniel Therrien in his annual report, tabled in Parliament at this time.
“With the pandemic accelerating the digitization of nearly each facet of our lives, the long run we have now lengthy been urging the federal government to arrange for has arrived in a sudden, dramatic style. This fast societal transformation is going down with out the right legislative framework to information selections and shield basic rights.”
Therrien stated most interactions going down on-line now — reminiscent of distant work, socializing with associates, logging into faculty or discussing well being points with a physician — use industrial videoconferencing expertise.
“For instance, telemedicine creates dangers to doctor-patient confidentiality when digital platforms contain industrial enterprises. E-learning platforms can seize delicate details about college students’ studying disabilities and different behavioural points,” he stated.
“That is notably regarding given our present privateness legal guidelines don’t present an efficient degree of safety suited to the digital surroundings.”
Canada wants legal guidelines that set limits on permissible makes use of of knowledge, he stated, and don’t rely “on the nice will of firms to behave responsibly.”
He additionally stated the pandemic has stirred up heated debates about privateness, together with questions concerning the authorities’s contact tracing app (on which Therrien was consulted) and about Canadians being requested for private well being data or required to bear temperature checks at airports or earlier than coming into workplaces and shops.
The privateness commissioner’s workplace has lengthy argued for enforcement powers to go after those that violate Canadians’ privateness — together with the flexibility to make binding orders and impose consequential administrative penalties for non-compliance with the regulation.
His workplace can be asking the federal authorities to outline privateness as a human proper.