The province of British Columbia is gearing up for a much-needed review of its controversial privacy law, the Personal Information Privacy Act (PIPA). Until September 19th, BC residents will have an opportunity to voice any concerns regarding the provincial PIPA, which has long been criticized for overstepping the boundaries when it comes to the privacy rights of citizens.
The all-party Special Committee to Review the PIPA is currently undertaking a comprehensive review of the Act, which was initially introduced in 2003, and most recently reviewed in 2008. The PIPA governs how private sector organizations are permitted to collect, use and disclose personal information. It also requires organizations to protect and secure personal information against unauthorized use or disclosure, and grants individuals the right to access their own personal information.
The Committee will then issue a report to the Legislative Assembly on the results of its review by February 25, 2015.
The Committee was appointed on February 25, 2014, in accordance with section 59 of the PIPA, and in particular, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the collection, use and disclosure of personal information by organizations.
The Committee has the powers of a Select Standing Committee and in addition is empowered:
- To appoint of their number one or more subcommittees and to refer to such subcommittees any of the matters referred to the committee;
- To sit during a period in which the House is adjourned, during the recess after prorogation until the next following Session and during any sitting of the House;
- To conduct consultations by any means the committee considers appropriate;
- To adjourn from place to place as may be convenient; and
- To retain such personnel as required to assist the committee.
OpenMedia is a network of people and organizations working to keep an open Internet and has argued that the PIPA needs a thorough review. According to the network’s communications manager, David Christopher, “British Columbians want to see action to safeguard privacy, especially when it comes to the warrantless disclosure of private information to government authorities without consent.”
The most glaring concerns with PIPA include how personal information is handed over to government authorities and other organizations without a warrant or consent, and citizens aren’t notified when their information has been given up.
The Supreme Court recently ruled warrantless requests for private information unconstitutional and the BC law needs to reflect that, according to Christopher.
Many have contacted OpenMedia to express their concerns and complaints about how privacy issues are being handled by the province. Christopher hopes to incorporate their voices into the presentation. “Everyone has the right to be free from government surveillance, the right to a private space in which we can be ourselves,” he commented.
The British Columbian Personal Information Privacy Act (PIPA) is set to undergo a major revamp by February 2015.
CIPP Exam Preparation
In preparation for the Certified Information Privacy Professional/Canada (CIPP/C) exam, a privacy professional should be comfortable with topics related to this post, including:
- Canadian government and legal system (I.A.a.)
- Types of personal information – private/sensitive information (I.B.a.iii.)
- PIPA British Columbia (II.A.c.)