Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Privacy Commissioner launches e-learning tool for retailers

This should have been done a few years ago ...

Yesterday, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada launched an online training tool for retailers to understand their obligations under PIPEDA. I haven't taken the course yet, but anything like this should be a good thing.

News Release: Privacy Commissioner launches e-learning tool for retailers (August 20, 2007) - Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Ottawa, August 20, 2007 – Retailers now have a free, do-it-yourself interactive tool to help them bring their privacy practices and policies in line with the law, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Jennifer Stoddart, announced today.

“Small businesses often don’t have the money to hire privacy specialists or lawyers to help them figure out how to comply with Canada’s privacy legislation,” says Commissioner Stoddart. “Nor is it always necessary. Good privacy compliance doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming”.

The new e-learning tool created by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) provides retailers with the information they need to set up their business to meet their obligations under Canada’s privacy laws and provide customers with the privacy protection they’re guaranteed under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).

“Protecting customers’ information is an increasingly important part of running a business today and the online training is a valuable tool to help our members build solid privacy practices into their operations,” says Catherine Swift, President and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

Derek Nighbor, Vice-President, National Affairs with the Retail Council of Canada (RCC) agrees. “With the proliferation of identity thieves and online fraudsters, members of the RCC who do not always have the time or the resources to learn about PIPEDA requirements will be pleased with the user-friendliness of this e-learning tool. Ultimately, their customers will find this a rewarding tool in the protection of their personal information” says Mr. Nighbor.

The OPC, in a joint initiative with the RCC, recently mailed privacy information kits to some 3,000 retailers in provinces where businesses are governed by PIPEDA. The kit includes a guide entitled Your Privacy Responsibilities: A Guide for Businesses and Organizations. (The kits will not go out to Retail Council members in the three provinces which have adopted their own private-sector privacy laws, B.C., Alberta and Quebec.)

“Some small businesses have been very proactive in developing good privacy practices, while many others still have a ways to go,” Ms. Stoddart says.

“Protecting customers’ personal information is the law, and it’s also good for a company’s reputation and bottom line,” the Commissioner adds, noting that research has shown it costs far less to adequately protect personal information in the first place than to clean up after a data breach.

The online retailer training session takes only about 30 minutes to complete. At the end, retailers will have: an information audit of their business; consent provisions required specifically for their business; a security plan; a sample privacy brochure for customers; and a training needs assessment. The interactive training is available online at http://www.privcom.gc.ca/privacy_comm/0001_home_e.asp.

New information for other types of small businesses is also available on the OPC’s web site.

Companies – large and small – in all but three provinces are subject to PIPEDA. The law imposes obligations on how those businesses must handle personal information such as names and addresses.The Privacy Commissioner of Canada is mandated by Parliament to act as an ombudsman, advocate and guardian of the privacy and protection of personal information rights of Canadians.

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