Antiquated Access and Privacy Laws to Stay Unaltered

More than twenty years ago, Canada was on the cutting edge with its newly minted Privacy Act and the Access to Information Act. Since then, we’ve seen each of the provinces step up to implement similar regulation for their public sectors. Though the federal laws set the benchmark at the time, they have both remained frozen in time. Despite calls from various sectors for significant reform, the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics asked the Information Commissioner and the Privacy Commissioner for their “quick fixes” or patches that may help the laws hobble along into the current century.

The Privacy Commissioner’s wish list included ten quick fixes and the Information Commissioner called for a dozen immediate changes. Though the quick fixes would help, both continue to call for a complete review of the laws to ensure that they are keeping up with changing times.

Following hearings and committe recommendations, the Minister of Justice has responded to the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics’ reports on reform to the Privacy Act and the Access to Information Act with a robust “thanks, but no thanks”. Perhaps not surprising, but disappointing to many who follow this field.

The reports and responses are worth the read:

House of Commons Committees – ETHI (40-2) – Reports and Government Responses

Report 11 – The Access to Information Act: First Steps Towards Renewal (Adopted by the Committee on June 15, 2009; Presented to the House on June 18, 2009)

Government Response: 11th Report of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, “The Access to Information Act: First Steps Towards Renewal” (Presented to the House on October 9, 2009)

Report 10 – The Privacy Act: First Steps Towards Renewal (Adopted by the Committee on June 8, 2009; Presented to the House on June 12, 2009)

Government Response: Tenth Report of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, “The Privacy Act: First Steps Towards Renewal” (Presented to the House on October 9, 2009)

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