Last month the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics (ETHI) published its report following a nine-month review of the federal Privacy Act. The Report makes 28 recommendations for revisions to the Act, which remains virtually unchanged since it came into effect in 1983, and is commonly referred to as outdated and ill-suited to adequately protect privacy in the 21st century.
The Act has been reviewed twice already, once in 1987 and again in 2008-2009, with none of the resulting recommendations being implemented. Given the understandable reluctance of governments to increase oversight of their own activities, it is easy to assume that the ETHI Committee’s recommendations will be ignored this time as well.
However, the Liberal government campaigned on a promise to revise both the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. And more recently, in response to the ETHI Committee’s review of the Access to Information Act, the government committed to making several significant changes. This would suggest that, 34 years later, the Privacy Act will likely be revised as well.
This issue of PrivacyScan summarizes and offers some commentary on the ETHI Committee’s Report, which could result in some very significant changes to the Privacy Act.