Review of privacy laws underway

Privacy commissioner: complaints on the rise, personal data increasingly at risk

Now is the time for British Columbians to share concerns about how their personal information is being used in the age of big data.

A public consultation process on the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA), which governs how private sector organizations can collect, use and disclose personal information, started on June 24 with calls for written submissions and public input until Sept. 19.

Public hearings are scheduled for Sept. 8-9.

An all-party committee of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia is undertaking the review of B.C.’s private sector privacy legislation.

“We are holding a public consultation to gather important information on how well the act is working, and whether changes are necessary,” says committee chair and Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier.

The province’s privacy commissioner made an initial written submission to the committee on May 28. In it, Elizabeth Denham noted privacy complaints to her office have increased 50 per cent since 2009.

“Because of sweeping technological change, there has been a seismic shift in the nature and amount of personal information held by private sector organizations since private sector privacy law was first enacted.

“We have also been radically transformed into a society where much of our lives are lived online. The result of this quantum leap in the collection, use and disclosure of information is new data security risks.”

Denham recommends stronger laws should be enacted to ensure companies notify people of security breaches involving their information.

“The single most significant tool to improve awareness and oversight, in my view, is mandatory breach notification. It would help to get privacy breaches out in the open.”

Smartphones and mobile devices, Google Streetview and Google Glass, and large databases created by companies, such as eBay, Target and Sony, on the buying habits of customers are examples mentioned in the submission about how technological change has altered the personal data and privacy landscapes.

Also troubling is the disclosure of personal information to a government or law enforcement agency without a warrant, Denham noted in the submission.

“Although there are many legitimate situations where police and other law enforcement agencies need access to personal information, the scope, purpose and impact of these warrantless disclosures requires parliamentary and public debate.”

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett is a member of the review committee. She was present for Denham’s submission and says the privacy commissioner had a lot of interesting things to say.

Barnett adds there are many pieces to PIPA and “access” to information is another concern.

“The only way you find out [if the act is working well, what needs improvement, what needs to change] is by going out and asking the people.”

She calls the review a “learning experience” for her and says it will help the provincial government address questions and concerns from some of the 300,000 businesses, charities, associations, trade unions, and trusts the legislation covers.

“It’s a very good opportunity to learn things you need to know and should know.”

Micheal Vonn is the BC Civil Liberties Association policy director. She says “we’re in a whole new realm” with respect to creating personal data and what constitutes personal information.

Where, in the past, the definition of personal information – name, address, phone number and medical information for example – was straight forward, that answer is more nuanced today.

“Because so many companies are interested in what is called the ‘big data revolution,’ part of what’s happening is we’re not just using information in a straightforward fashion, but we’re data-mining and using data analytics.”

Vonn says her organization will make a submission to the committee that will talk about the “balance between privacy and freedom of expression.”

She adds PIPA has been “loosened” over the years by private companies lobbying the government and looking for more leeway in how they collect data, which they can use for advertising and commercial purposes.

“It’s very important the public make its voice heard. You can make your point heard now better than you could make it at any other time.”

To participate in the review or learn more about PIPA visit www.leg.bc.ca/cmt/pipa.

The last review of PIPA was in 2008.

 

Just Posted

Ministry announces highway road work planned for 100 Mile House this spring

Drivers can expect delays and at times single lane, alternating traffic

New report on 2017 wildfires calls for better coordination with First Nations

Tsilhqot’in National Government documents 2017 disaster and lists 33 calls to action

BC Bus North service extended to September

Transportation ministers have extended the service, which was set to expire at the end of May

Annual 100 Mile House Easter Egg Hunt a great success

Around 200 kids showed up to scavenge for chocolate

Woman dies after suffering ‘medical event’ while driving north of Lac la Hache

Initial report was that an older female had driven into the side of a hill, was not responsive

VIDEO: Large dust devil swirls through town in B.C.’s interior

Residents look on as column climbs about 90 feet into the air

RCMP arrest B.C. man following threatening Vaisakhi Facebook post

Post made reference to pressure cooker bomb at massive Surrey parade

Second dump site of Dungeness crab discovered in northern B.C.

DFO confident new site related to larger April 2 dump

Northern B.C. high school student reaches 100,000 followers on YouTube

Voice actor, animator, Jericho Fortune has more than 30-million views on his channel GTAGAMER222

University mourns student who died in B.C. canoeing accident

Andrew Milner, 19, was in his second year with the University of Calgary’s basketball program

B.C. woman pleads for people to stop stealing daffodils meant to honour cancer victims

Cynthia Bentley honours memory of those lost to cancer by planting 100 daffodils each year

Canfor temporarily shutting down lumber mills across B.C.

Low lumber prices and the high cost of fibre are the cause of curtailment, according to the company

Two in critical condition, several still in hospital after Langley deck collapse

Close relative Satwant Garcha makes daily trips to visit those injured at the wedding

Allegedly intoxicated man arrested after 3 paramedics attacked at Kamloops hospital

Paramedics had transported the man to Royal Inlands Hospital for medical treatment

Most Read