The Canadian Privacy Law Blog: Developments in privacy law and writings of a Canadian privacy lawyer, containing information related to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (aka PIPEDA) and other Canadian and international laws.

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The author of this blog, David T.S. Fraser, is a Canadian privacy lawyer who practices with the firm of McInnes Cooper. He is the author of the Physicians' Privacy Manual. He has a national and international practice advising corporations and individuals on matters related to Canadian privacy laws.

For full contact information and a brief bio, please see David's profile.

Please note that I am only able to provide legal advice to clients. I am not able to provide free legal advice. Any unsolicited information sent to David Fraser cannot be considered to be solicitor-client privileged.

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The views expressed herein are solely the author's and should not be attributed to his employer or clients. Any postings on legal issues are provided as a public service, and do not constitute solicitation or provision of legal advice. The author makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained herein or linked to. Nothing herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel.

This web site is presented for informational purposes only. These materials do not constitute legal advice and do not create a solicitor-client relationship between you and David T.S. Fraser. If you are seeking specific advice related to Canadian privacy law or PIPEDA, contact the author, David T.S. Fraser.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Column: Privacy Legislation Is Needed, Even If It Hurts 

Instead of complaining about the inconvenience of forms, privacy staements and the like, as many columnist have done, Wayne Rash has written a column about the benefits of mandatory privacy. In this column, he recounts his "encounters" with changed brought about due to privacy laws and finds comfort in them:

Wayne Rash: Privacy Legislation Is Needed, Even If It Hurts:

"...What was happening was that the companies I dealt with have made security of my information mandatory, whether I liked it or not. They're doing this because they're required to by a federal law referred to by its acronym HIPAA. The financial community has a similar requirement named after the sponsors of that relevant law, called Sarbanes-Oxley. The bipartisan team knew that protecting the information vital to investors would take more than vague statements in annual reports, and as a result mandated a series of steps that among other things ensured the security of financial data.

Again, the law was requiring companies to take steps in security that they otherwise wouldn't take. The reason, of course, is that financial officers tend to look on security as a cost center and as a result are reluctant to provide necessary funding, explaining why corporate security efforts have been so difficult to put into place. The fact that federal law requires such steps eliminates that problem in areas where it applies.

The fact that the laws result in yet more paperwork for me, or in the requirement to queue up five feet away from the pharmacy counter are minor inconveniences to me, but in reality they are a small part in a much larger plan. I can't overhear the conversations of others. My doctor or my broker can't send information to third parties without my consent. And companies have to safeguard my data.

Most of those steps would never have been taken without laws requiring them. Worse, most people would have viewed security in the same manner as the Blackberry user I sat next to. She could have tilted her screen so I couldn't see, but she obviously didn't think about it. People in general think about security very little. Problem is, some of those who think about it very little really should be thinking about it a lot, but they're not...."

In my view, Wayne Rash is a kind of spokesperson for the many quiet consumers who may not be standing on streetcorners applauding, but are silently appreciative of the efforts that companies are being forced to undertake to protect consumer privacy. And, companies should note, consumers like Wayne Rash vote with their wallets.


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