Alberta’s Personal Information Protection Act is Getting Some Changes

Alberta’s Privacy Commissioner, Jill Clayton reported seeing what she calls, an unprecedented number of online data breaches. These would fall under the province’s Personal Information Privacy Act. Attacks included phishing scams, e-commerce attacks, and ransomware.

15 committee members are currently reviewing the act, which received its last update in 2010. Wednesday the committee listened to suggestions from 10 different parties. Clayton was one of them.

In an interview with Postmedia, she stated she didn’t think the act was a broken piece of legislation; and that she would like to see it revised to extend it to cover non-profits and to require organizations to implement privacy management.

She also suggested making these organizations provide transparency reports when they give information to law enforcement agencies. Included in the reports she would like to see the number and types of requests, legal authority, and disclosures. She is unhappy with the current state of things, and pointed out that government agencies are relying more and more on information collected in the private sector. As current law stands, there is no way for the public to find out how often, and why these companies are giving up personal info without their consent.

“I think the public might be surprised at how often private sector businesses are giving up information to police, to law enforcement. The idea of transparency reports is to shine a light on that kind of disclosure,” Clayton said.

Alberta is the first Canadian jurisdiction that has mandatory breach reporting laws, if there is a significant risk associated with the breach.

The Act will be in review for the next few months. After they collect all the submissions and meetings are done, they will decide based on what they have heard and read.

“It’s too early to say what recommendations will be made to the legislature, but the committee’s report is on target for January,” Committee Chair, NDP MLA Graham Sucha said.

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