Michael Geist, one of Canada's most respected technology lawyers, has a very interesting comment in Today's Toronto Star. He argues that the federal Privacy Commissioner needs to take some affirmative steps before privacy protection in Canada becomes more bark than bite. In many ways, the Commissioner's office is hamstrung by a lack of resources following the scandals involving the former Commissioner, George Radwanski.
"If the commissioner's office is to take the lead on cutting edge issues and increase its enforcement activity, the federal government must step up to the plate to provide it with much-needed resources.
In the wake of last year's scandal involving former privacy commissioner George Radwanski, the office has faced significant budget pressures that have constrained new hiring and sadly transformed the current privacy legislation into a complaints-only-driven process.
While there is no doubt the will at the commissioner's office to ensure that PIPEDA meets expectations, the federal government must help pave the way.
It is evident that privacy laws without effective enforcement and genuine transparency may provide Canadians with little more than placebo privacy protection.
Ensuring that this does not happen is, in the words of the privacy commissioner, a question of responsibility."