Federal, British Columbia and Alberta Commissioners Working Together to Ensure Seamless Privacy Protection in the Private Sector

January 26, 2004

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Jennifer Stoddart, the Information and Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia, David Loukidelis, and the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta, Frank Work, today announced that they will be working cooperatively to develop a harmonized approach to dealing with privacy complaints in the private sector.

All three jurisdictions face new responsibilities with the coming into force on January 1, 2004 of their respective private sector privacy laws. Last week, Ms. Stoddart, Mr. Loukidelis and Mr. Work met in Ottawa to begin working out an understanding for administering their respective laws and to begin developing fair, consistent and clear rules of enforcement, which will help to eliminate any confusion regarding jurisdiction.

The federal law, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), has been coming into force in stages since 2001, when it began applying to the federally-regulated sector and to cross-border transactions.

At the beginning of the new year, PIPEDA extended its reach to the collection, use and disclosure of personal information in the course of commercial activities throughout the rest of the private sector, except in provinces which have enacted legislation that is substantially similar to the federal law. In November 2003, Quebec’s private sector privacy law, which has been in force for close to ten years, was deemed substantially similar to PIPEDA by the federal government.

In January 2004, both the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) in British Columbia and the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) in Alberta came into force. These laws contain the same principles and may apply to the same organizations as PIPEDA. It is hoped that the federal government will also find that the BC and Alberta laws are substantially similar.

Both in the coming months and in the forseeable future, the three commissioners are committed to working together to minimize red tape and to create a seamless continuum of privacy protection that is both practical for businesses and respectful of citizens’ privacy rights.