News Release: Joint Submission Calling for Reform to BC’s Privacy Laws

BC FIPA and BCCLA recommend key changes to BC’s Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA)

VANCOUVER, August 17, 2020 – BC’s Personal Information and Protection Act (PIPA) is in need of reform. That’s the finding of the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (FIPA) and BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) in a joint written submission to the Special Legislative Committee.

FIPA previously made an oral presentation to the Special Committee on June 9, 2020. Our joint written submission with the BCCLA builds on the recommendations we had put forward in our oral presentation, along with suggesting new areas for reform. 

“The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted our growing reliance on technological platforms, as well as the necessity of increased privacy protections,” says FIPA’s Executive Director, Jason Woywada. “We believe that this review period provides BC with an opportune time to proactively address the shortcomings of PIPA to ensure that we are keeping pace with the rapidly changing local and global privacy protection standards. We hope that our submission will assist the Special Committee in its deliberations for PIPA reform.”

Amongst other things, our joint written submission calls for: greater public education so that individuals are more aware of their privacy rights and for businesses to know their responsibilities; for specificity, clarity, and accessibility in organizations’ privacy policies; enhanced credentials of privacy officers in organizations processing highly sensitive or large-scale personal information; definitions of terms such as “de-identified information,” “anonymized information,” “pseudonymized information,” and “aggregate information”; enhanced privacy and security requirements for de-identified information and information shared between public and private entities; and addressing the legislative gap which enables private entities to exercise public functions while displaying a lack of transparency on how personal information is collected, used, and disclosed. 

We look forward to the Special Committee’s report in early 2021, and following that, government action on those recommendations. Our written submission can be found here

FIPA would like to thank and recognize the following for their continuous support, assistance, and input to this submission:

FIPA: Advisor Dr. Colin Bennett, Board member Nazli Jelveh, Member Samantha Delechantos, Former BC FIPA Executive Director Vincent Gogolek. 

Contributors: BC Civil Liberties Association, BC Government and Service Employees’ Union, Canadian Civil Liberties Association

Jason Woywada, Executive Director
BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association
(e) | (p) 604-739-9788

News Release: Time to reform BC’s privacy laws

BC FIPA recommends key changes to BC’s Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA)

VANCOUVER, June 10, 2020 – During the Special Committee’s public consultations to review PIPA, BC Freedom of Information and Privacy (FIPA) presented several key recommendations. 

Details of our presentation found here.

Compared to other provincial and the federal privacy legislation, BC’s PIPA has had no substantive amendments in the last 17 years. Presently, more than ever, personal information is being collected and stored in exponential amounts, subject to advanced analytics, and highly prone to being compromised. Changes to PIPA are needed for two main reasons – citizens expect increased privacy protections and education, and BC’s economy faces a real risk if the province’s privacy protections are inadequate to international data protection standards. 

Our submission proposes several recommendations, many of which have been called for in previous legislative reviews. We are calling for mandatory data breach reporting, algorithmic transparency, as well as an increase in the following: transparency and accountability by organizations, protections during international transfers of personal information, Commissioner’s enforcement powers, and resources for public education campaigns regarding PIPA. We also recognize and urge BC’s leadership in subjecting political parties to PIPA.  

“We are excited for the opportunity to contribute to the reform of a piece of legislation that is increasingly relevant in today’s digital age,” says FIPA’s executive director, Jason Woywada. “This legislative review offers BC the opportunity to regain leadership in its privacy protection laws and amend PIPA to offer its citizens the protections they expect and deserve.”  

We look forward to presenting a comprehensive list of recommendations as part of our written submission to the Special Committee prior to the August deadline. Details on our presentation can be found here.  

Jason Woywada, Executive Director 
BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association 
(e) | (p) 604-739-9788 

Joint letter on data collection and privacy in the COVID-19 era.

BC FIPA, along with other civil society groups, has signed on to Open Media’s joint letter calling for measures to be put in place to ensure Canadians’ right to privacy is protected, and not undermined after the crisis is over.

Specifically, we are asking for a clear message from the provincial and federal governments stating that they will not turn to digital tracking and location data collection to address COVID-19 concerns.

With that in mind, we are looking to pre-empt potential bad policies by putting forward seven key principles that should be in place to preserve our privacy and our democracy:

  1. Prioritize approaches to help people stay at home which do not involve surveillance.
  2. Due process for adopting any new powers.
  3. Consent must be favoured.
  4. Put strict limits on data collection and retention.
  5. Put strict limits on use and disclosure.
  6. There must be oversight, transparency and accountability.
  7. Any surveillance efforts related to COVID-19 must not fall under the domain of security, law enforcement or intelligence agencies.

More information on these principles can be found here.

Data Privacy Design Jam: What is meaningful consent in an age of connected devices?

BC FIPA, in partnership with the Vancouver Design Nerds, held a two-day design jam in Ottawa March 5th and 6th. The purpose of this event was to explore issues around meaningful consent in the context of everyday life ranging from personal wearable technologies to smart homes and smart cities and their relationship to big data. With these different scales in mind, we sought to create new models of generating meaningful consent to mitigate the negative impact these technologies have on privacy. The two-day event brought together a diverse group of experts from academia and industry to advocates and activists working in this space to find creative solutions through a collaborative and inter-disciplinary approach.

Data Privacy Design Jam report title page

The final ‘prototypes’ that emerged after the second day varied in terms of how they approached meaningful consent, but an underlying theme that intersected all four groups was a focus on empowering individuals to take control over their personal information through various methods .

It is important to note that this project in itself is not the final stage in our work on meaningful consent and connected societies. Rather, this project has become a ‘jumping-off point’ that will launch future research and events to further address these issues. More specifically, we have begun to explore the feasibility of hosting another design jam with everyday consumers from various backgrounds rather than expert participants. The process we used could be adapted for either a representative sample of the general public or a predefined select target audience. By providing a similar initial problem and thought processes, the results would provide useful insights to how the public views issues of consent in a modern context.

Download the full report here.

BC FIPA would like to thank the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada for the opportunity to explore this important issue through the Contributions Program.