B.C.’s privacy legislation not good enough: Radwanski

Federal privacy commissioner says Ottawa won't recognize legislation in its current form

B.C.’s proposed privacy legislation doesn’t cut the mustard, according to the federal privacy commissioner.

In a letter to the B.C. government, George Radwanski said the federal government would not recognize the law in its current state.

“Bill 38 has a number of very grave deficiencies that would, in my view, make it impossible for the Government of Canada to recognize this legislation in its current form as substantially similar to the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA),” wrote Radwanski.

The federal legislation, which comes into force on Jan. 1, 2004, will apply to all jurisdictions across Canada unless provinces pass privacy legislation that is “substantially similar.” According to Radwanski, the B.C. legislation — if passed as is — would still be in force but would operate concurrently with the federal law, not replace it.

“Where PIPEDA sets higher standards for privacy protection than the provincial legislation, the federal provisions will take precedence to the extent of any inconsistency and all organizations carrying out commercial activities will have to comply with them,” he wrote.

The B.C. legislation, which was introduced on April 30, was designed to be less complex than the federal legislation.

“(The legislation) providers British Columbians with broader coverage than the federal act and is less complex,” said David Loukidelis, B.C.’s information and privacy commissioner, on April 30 when the legislation was introduced.

For the complete copy of Radwanski’s letter to the B.C. government, including his detailed explanation of why the legislation is inadequate, and more information on PIPEDA and its impact on organizations, click on the “Related Articles” link below.

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