New government will deal with privacy regulations, wireless

When Justin Trudeau is sworn into office as the country’s newest Prime Minister shortly, he’ll have a lot on his plate. But privacy officers will be looking for one thing that’s already on Industry Canada’s agenda: Regulations for implementing the Digital Privacy Act.

Passed months ago, privacy officers in organizations that come under federal law have been waiting for the regulations that will describe how they should tell customers and partners of a data breach that might cause “significant harm”, and how they have to keep and maintain a record of every breach of security safeguards involving personal information under their control.
Most parts of the act, which updates the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronics Documents Act (PIPEDA), came into effect June 18, but these sections need the regulations.

According to privacy lawyer David Fraser of Halifax’s McInnes Cooper law firm, it’s not a matter of the new Cabinet quickly passing a piece of paper. Traditionally proposed regulations are put out for public comment before getting final approval.

In fact, he said, privacy lawyers are expert enough to guess what will be in them in part because Alberta companies have had to face breach notification and record keeping requirements under provincial privacy law.

Meanwhile privacy officers (or CISOs with that responsibility) aren’t in a rush.

“Overall they’re more than happy to wait for this to come into effect because there are significant things that will change once the statue is fully in force,” he said, such as the breach notification and record keeping requirements.

“They’re probably more than happy to take the time to get their ducks in a row. I think there’s a fair amount of understanding of what will ultimately will be expected and will be in the regulations, so they can and many of them are taking the time to develop their internal policies to comply with the breach notification requirements of the legislation.”

Also on the new government’s plate will be setting the rules for the upcoming 600 MHz spectrum auction, which will be an indication of how active it will be in supporting competition in the wireless industry.

Starting with the 2008 AWS auction, the Harper government has tried to tilt the playing field to encourage new carriers — such as Wind Mobile, Mobilicity, Public Mobile and the wireless divisions of cablecos Videotron and Eastlink — as well as regional operators such as Manitoba Telecom and Sasktel.

That strategy has had mixed results. Mobilcity was bought by Rogers Communications, and Public Mobile by Telus. Bell, Rogers and Telus continue to have the lion’s share of cellular customers.

Wind, which hoped to be a national carrier, operates in Ontario, B.C. and Alberta.

The Liberal party platform makes no mention of the party’s wireless strategy, so it isn’t known if the Trudeau government will continue the Conservative strategy or have a more hands-off policy.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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