Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Alberta introduces amendments to privacy law to render it constitutional, falls short

On 18 November 2014, the government of Alberta introduced Bill 3: Personal Information Protection Amendment Act, 2014 to address the shortcomings in the law that rendered it unconstitutional according to the Supreme Court of Canada in the UFCW Case.

While the amendments directly address the constitutional problems of the UFCW Case, but dramatically fall short in addressing the underlying structural issues in the law that led to the the Court's finding that the law was unconstitutional. The Bill grants trade unions -- and trade unions only -- the ability to collect, use and disclose personal information in certain circumstances but do not permit any other organization to do so under the same circumstances. A trade union can record replacement workers crossing the picket lines, but an employer cannot similarly record a picket line, even in a public place.

While the SCC necessarily focused on the union context, PIPA (and the federal PIPEDA) don't sufficiently take into account other forms of constitutionally protected, expressive activities. I suppose it will be left to another day to have either PIPA or PIPEDA struck down on those bases.

For anyone who may be interested, here is a copy of PIPA showing the Bill 3 changes in-place [PDF].

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