Privacy and personal information are regulated differently in each region of the world, even between Canada and the US.
But in which ways to Canadian privacy laws differ from others?
The European Union and Canada supervise the private sector’s use of personal data, whereas the US regulation of the private sector is minimal, according to Trulioo. These differences emanate from distinct conceptual bases for privacy in each jurisdiction, the Canadian company says: in the US, privacy protection is essentially liberty protection, i.e. protection from government, while for Europeans, privacy protects dignity or their public image. In Canada, privacy protection is focused on individual autonomy through personal control of information.
Under Canadian law, protection of personal information is guaranteed through two federal laws: the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act for the private sector and the Privacy Act for the public sector. In addition, there are provincial laws that govern the use of personal information in Alberta, British Columbia, and Quebec that are considered to be equivalent to PIPEDA by the federal government and take precedence in those provinces. All businesses operating in Canada are subject to the applicable laws based on where they are located. These laws ensure that personal information is used in such a way that the privacy of the owner is protected and not abused.
Unlike the US, Canada has in place strict privacy laws that are recognized by the E.U. as providing “adequate protection” of personal information. Therefore, the exchange of personal data between EU member states and Canada can take place without the need for a safe harbour agreement, according to Trulioo. Also unlike the US, privacy compliance is overseen at the federal and provincial levels by privacy commissioners and ombudsmen.
“The idea that one’s data is one’s own, dismantles the need for customized privacy policies, legislative solutions and privacy seal programs by shifting responsibility from business and government to the individual,” argues Stephen Ufford, CEO of Trulioo. “This approach is in line with the fundamental nature of the Internet.”