Thursday, December 21, 2006

CBA Says Deficiencies in PIPEDA Must Be Addressed in Five-Year Review

This was posted on the CBA site a while ago, but I'm working through a backlog of links after a really busy few months ...

Among those testifying at the PIPEDA review was Brian Bowman, Chair of the Privacy and Access Law Section of the CBA, who presented recommendations on behalf of the CBA. Michael Geist's site has a summary of the testimony presented on behalf of the CBA, but the release below links to the written submission:

CBA Says Deficiencies in PIPEDA Must Be Addressed in Five-Year Review

OTTAWA – The Canadian Bar Association says there are deficiencies in the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) that must be amended so the law addresses both individual privacy rights and organizations’ needs to collect and use information appropriately.

“It is essential that we be vigilant in respecting the balance of interests in the collection and use of personal information. We must oppose unnecessary erosions of privacy by both government and non-governmental organizations,” says Brian Bowman of Winnipeg, Chair of the CBA’s National Privacy and Access Law Section.

The CBA submission criticizes four key areas of the law:

  • PIPEDA and litigation. Exceptions in PIPEDA relating to litigation are too narrow and impede well-established procedures. The CBA recommends the law should be neutral in regard to the litigation process.
  • Enforcement. The CBA says enforcement should be more effective, but continue to reflect principles of fundamental justice. The CBA recommends an effective enforcement mechanism, such as an impartial tribunal, that would operate informally and have the power to make orders and award damages.
  • Notification of breaches. The CBA says notification of breaches of privacy should be balanced in approach. The CBA recommends that individuals be notified of a breach only when mechanisms like encryption have failed, or when the information is personal and sensitive.
  • Trans-border information flow. The CBA says information transferred across borders must be protected according to Canadian law. The CBA recommends that where personal information is being stored or processed outside Canada, additional protections – such as contracts – be required to add to the security of that information.

“We believe our suggestions will provide assistance in amending PIPEDA to address deficiencies and concerns that have become apparent since the law was enacted,” says Brian Bowman. “This five-year review of the legislation provides an excellent opportunity to re-assess that balance.”

Brian Bowman will present the CBA submission to the Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics Committee on Monday, Dec. 11, 2006 at 3:30 p.m. in Room 371, West Block. The submission is available on the CBA website at:

The Canadian Bar Association is dedicated to improvement in the law and the administration of justice. Some 37,000 lawyers, law teachers, and law students from across Canada are members.

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CONTACT: Hannah Bernstein, Canadian Bar Association, Tel: (613) 237-2925, ext. 146; E-mail:

(Full disclosure: I was on the committee that developed the recommendations.)

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