New Legal Corner at the Privacy Commissioner

I don’t mean to steal this issue from privacy guru David T. S. Fraser, but here’s a development that people might be interested in.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada launched a new Legal Corner page on their website this week.

Resources on the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) and Privacy Act are collected on the page.

Although we intend for this Corner to be particularly useful for members of the legal community and law students, we hope that individuals, organizations and government institutions will also benefit from accessing relevant laws, jurisprudence, findings, interpretations, guidelines and a host of other resources.

Browsing the resources, a paper David H. Flaherty of the University of Western Ontario from earlier this summer particularly caught my attention. In Reflections on Reform of the Federal Privacy Act.

In arguing for reform of the Federal Privacy Act, Flaherty points out that the Act has not kept up with with changes in the Provincial legislatures.

The story is quite simple: for historical reasons of precedence in enactment, each one has improved mightily on the federal law. The latest enactment tends to have the most teeth and the most privacy protective requirements; the 2004 Ontario Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA) is a case in point.42 The public and private sector Acts in Quebec, British Columbia, and Alberta have also raised the bar in terms of their scope and allowance for order making power.43 Provincial government bodies in Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia, for example, have to live in mortal fear of their Information and Privacy Commissioners, since they can order them to act in a certain way or to stop doing something. While the Privacy Commissioner of Canada can give advice, government institutions do not have to listen to her.

Privacy law will be increasingly important in the telecommunications era, and will pose unique potential challenges when dealing with electronic health records.

It will be nice to have a one-stop shopping source for legal information on privacy.


  1. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada seems to be always a step ahead of other government agencies. Good catch!