Privacy Round-Up (Volume 14)
In this edition of the Round-Up:
- A bill aiming to strengthen traveler privacy rights in personal digital devices has been introduced in federal Parliament. The proposed law follows the Court of Appeal of Alberta’s 2020 decision in R v. Canfield, where examination of devices was found to violate search and seizure provisions in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms due to the lack of limits on such examinations under Canada’s Customs Act;
- Public interest disclosures by federal institutions under the Privacy Act is the subject of guidance recently updated by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC). The OPC clarified circumstances in which government institutions may disclose personal information without the consent of the individual affected, and stressed that institutions must carefully balance public interest objectives with the individual's competing privacy interests;
- A voluntary Political Campaign Activity Code of Practice has been introduced by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia (OIPC BC). The Code, which counts the BC Liberal Party, the BC NDP, and the BC Green Party as signatories, will “give political parties and candidates the opportunity to publicly commit to fair information campaigning principles, that complement their legal obligations under the Personal Information Protection Act and the Election Act.” (Register for our Monthly Privacy Call on April 27 to hear a conversation about the void of privacy legislation governing the personal information practices of federal political parties);
- The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPC Ontario) has publicly commented on Bill 106, the Pandemic and Emergency Preparedness Act. The proposed Act introduce new regulation-making powers relating to (a) the obligations and authorities of Ontario Health Teams regarding personal health information, and (b) the right to access records of personal health information in electronic format. Among other things, the IPC Ontario recommends that Ontario Health be required to consult with her office and with the public regarding such regulations;
- In his speech to the Special Committee to Review the provincial Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, BC Information and Privacy Commissioner Michael McEvoy stressed themes of access and accountability, privacy protection, and enhanced oversight in the legislative reform process. The OIPC BC also published accompanying written submissions;
- The IPC Ontario continues to participate in discussions relating to Ontario’s proposed amendments to its Employment Standards Act. In her speech to the Standing Committee on Social Policy of the Legislative Assembly, Commissioner Patricia Kosseim reiterated that workplace monitoring should be governed by a more comprehensive privacy law. Previous communications from the Commissioner on this proposed law were discussed in volume 13 of the Round-Up;
- The IPC Ontario released an investigation report concerning the University of Guelph’s collection of information relating to the vaccination status of students who applied to live in residence. Three complainants had alleged that the University’s collection of this information contravened Ontario's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The IPC Ontario found that the information constituted personal information as defined by the Act, but that it was collected in accordance with the law. The report emphasized the evolving nature of pandemic-related restrictions, and reinforced that the decision must be read in light of the context that existed when the information was collected;
- The common-law test allowing warrantless searches of a home incident to arrest has been modified by a new Supreme Court decision. The modified standard requires both that police have reasonable suspicion that the search will address a valid safety purpose, and that the search must be restricted to respect heightened privacy interests within the home;
- An Ontario Court overturned the certification of an intrusion upon seclusion class action. The case involved a former nurse who had inappropriately accessed personal health information to facilitate medication theft. Because the unlawful access was “fleeting and incidental to the medication theft”, the Divisional Court determined that the case was not one that “cries out for a remedy” for a breach of privacy interests;
- Advertising Standards Canada (Ad Standards) released its seventh annual Ad Choices Accountability Program Compliance Report. The report includes information about consumer complaints received by Ad Standards related to interest-based advertising;
- The aims of Alberta’s proposed Public’s Right to Know Act were outlined by the provincial government in a media release. The Act would require that crime data be reported annually through a legislative report as well as published on a government website, and it would allow the government to highlight “statistics that are most concerning to Albertans such as data about violence, serious crime and property offences”;
- Adam Kardash, Partner and AccessPrivacy Lead, will be participating in Osler's inaugural Payments Law Webinar on April 28 at 11 AM ET. Our panel of legal experts will bring their perspectives on what businesses need to know – and how they can flourish – in the Canadian payments ecosystem. Visit the event page to register for free.
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