Canadian Privacy Commissioner Unimpressed with Bill C-11 as it Currently Stands

The Canadian Privacy Commissioner recently voiced serious concerns with Bill C-11, a piece of legislation meant  to replace the Canadian law relating to  personal information. Though it is meant to upgrade Canadian legislation, Commissioner Therrien believes the revised law would actually lessen the protection of personal information for Canadians.

As you may remember, the Canadian Parliament tabled new bill called C-11, back in September, meant to overhaul our the Canadian personal information protection statute. This bill is currently being studied, including as changes which may be required before it should become law.

Mr. Therrien recently spoke about this bill at an online conference put together by the Option Consommateurs, where he gave us his take on C-11, namely that this bill falls short of adequately protecting Canadians.

For one thing, the Canadian Commissioner says the new law should make it harder for businesses to use obscure or vague language, when requesting consent from individuals, but it does not. Even under the new statute, businesses could continue to ask for consent using language that is unclear or not specific enough. According to him, Bill C-11 would lower the standard to apply to consents from individuals.

Not too surprisingly, the Commissioner also disagrees with the Legislator’s decision to create a new system whereby penalties would be heard by a new administrative tribunal, as opposed to the office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. He believes this new structure will only result in process that is even more cumbersome in cases of violation of the privacy protection statute.

The Commissioner also reiterated that he believes Canada should be enshrine the individuals’ rights to the protection of their personal information, for example in Constitution-like documents meant to confer on that right a charter-like protection. Sadly enough, Canada has yet to protect the righto to the protection of personal to that extent. According to the Canadian commissioner, this weakens what Canadians can expect in terms of protection from the law.