Canada's Privacy Law Faces Legal Challenge: If Canadian Courts Rule PIPEDA Unconstitutional and Strike It Down, the Ramifications for Canadian and Worldwide Businesses Will Be Profound

By Swartz, Nikki | Information Management, March-April 2004 | Go to article overview

Canada's Privacy Law Faces Legal Challenge: If Canadian Courts Rule PIPEDA Unconstitutional and Strike It Down, the Ramifications for Canadian and Worldwide Businesses Will Be Profound


Swartz, Nikki, Information Management


Just two days before key phases of Canada's national privacy law, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act PIPEDA), went into effect January 1, the Quebec Court of Appeal cleared the way for the province's attorney general to contest the constitutional validity of the law.

PIPEDA applies to businesses and provincial commercial activities, governing how businesses manage and protect customer information. The law is meant to protect the private information that consumers give to companies in the course of doing business. It imposes significant restrictions on the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information nationwide unless a province enacts its own "substantially similar" privacy legislation.

Similar provincial legislation has so far been introduced in British Columbia, Alberta, and Quebec, whose private-sector privacy law has been in place since 1993 and was recently deemed substantially similar to PIPEDA by the federal cabinet. Ontario, which failed to introduce its own private-sector privacy legislation in 2003, is under the jurisdiction of the federal law until an acceptable provincial equivalent is passed sometime this year.

Ann Cavoukian, Ontario's information and privacy commissioner, told the Toronto Star that Quebec's constitutional challenge is "unfortunate" because it came just days before the most important phase of the federal law went into effect. "If anything, this will create greater uncertainty and confusion," she said.

Why PIPEDA?

PIPEDA's path has been fraught with challenges and criticism, and not just in Quebec. The federal law--introduced in 2000 but until recently limited in application to federally regulated companies such as airlines, banks, and telecommunications providers--requires every Canadian business to appoint a privacy officer or contact person and implement systems to ensure customer information is secure, accurate, collected with appropriate consent, and not used beyond a specific stated purpose. Businesses that do not follow the law can be taken to court or publicly exposed.

PIPEDA proponent Michael Geist, the Canada research chair in Internet and e-commerce at the University of Ottawa and technology counsel for law firm Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, says maintaining a federal privacy law is essential "because the provincial mish mash of laws that would fill the void would create uncertainty and costs for the business and privacy communities." Without PIPEDA, he says, provincial alternatives that may potentially conflict would magnify costs and create uncertainty for large and small businesses.

The Canadian business community has long supported a national privacy standard, in part because dealing with one federal privacy law is much preferred to the alternative: complying with dozens of provincial laws. At a Senate committee hearing on PIPEDA, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce stated that the business community views a coordinated national framework as essential. The Information Technology Association of Canada lauded the government for showing initiative in attempting to create a uniform law applying to all companies, regardless of their location. At the same hearing, the Canadian Association of Internet Providers emphasized "the importance of having uniform legislation, if not between Canada and the rest of the world, certainly within Canada ... Allowing each jurisdiction to tailor additional laws could create a patchwork of legislation that effectively would prevent electronic commerce from crossing provincial borders."

In addition, without PIPEDA, doing business with the world would be challenging for Canadian companies. The European Union allows its member countries to share personal customer information only with other nations that meet the EU's privacy standards. PIPEDA received the EU's seal of approval in 2002, meaning Canada meets those standards now, but a successful court challenge against the federal law could lead to a "data blockage" between Canada and the European Union that could stifle overseas e-commerce, experts contend. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Canada's Privacy Law Faces Legal Challenge: If Canadian Courts Rule PIPEDA Unconstitutional and Strike It Down, the Ramifications for Canadian and Worldwide Businesses Will Be Profound
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.