Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Privacy Commissioner's Annual Report to Parliament

The Federal Privacy Commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart, delivered her annual report to the Canadian Parliament this week.

Stoddart reports that businesses and organizations seem willing to take corrective measures when they are the subject of complaints about non-compliance with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). PIPEDA, which came into full effect in 2004, is expected to undergo a full legislative review in Parliament this fall.

"Overall, the information handling practices brought to our attention show Canadian organizations demonstrating a high level of compliance with PIPEDA. Businesses, large and small, have demonstrated goodwill, commitment to community values and openness to change when it comes to protecting privacy. But I am concerned that apparent compliance does not always result in truly effective privacy and security practice. Goodwill needs to be translated into practice."

Other areas of concern are the outsourcing of data processing to countries lacking effective data protection standards as well as the rapid spread of RFID (radio frequency ID) tags that track goods and that could be used to collect data on consumers' habits.

In related privacy news, the United Kingdom's Information Commissioner intends to present a report to the British Parliament calling for criminal penalties under the Data Protection Act. The report calls for prison sentences for the illegal buying and selling of personal information.

The report, entitled What Price Privacy? The unlawful trade in confidential personal information, explains:

"Individuals are not the only ones who suffer when third parties gain unlawful access to their personal details. Companies risk losing the trust of their customers and confidence in the public sector is shaken. We cannot sensibly build an information society unless its foundations and its systems are secure. Plugging the gaps becomes ever more urgent as the government rolls out its program of joined-up public services and joined-up computer systems under the banner of transformational government. However laudable the aim, we need to make sure that increasing access to government-held information for those with a legitimate need to know does not also open the door to those who seek to buy, beguile or barter their way to information that is rightly denied to them in law."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:56 pm

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