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Privacy Commissioner calls for further examination of transfer of personal information about Canadians across borders

Ottawa, August 18, 2004 - The Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Jennifer Stoddart, today calls for a greater dialogue between governments, the private sector and the public about cross-border exchanges of Canadians' personal information. The Commissioner articulated this need in the Office's submission to the Information and Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia about the privacy implications of the USA PATRIOT Act.

The Privacy Commissioner congratulates the B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner, David Loukidelis, for leading this important inquiry.

"The growing frequency in which personal information is shared across borders in increasingly globalized interdependent economies has important privacy implications for Canadians," said Ms. Stoddart. "We have an obligation to protect the privacy rights of Canadians. We must have a balanced and reasoned approach to personal information protection."

Canadians expect that governments and the privacy sector will collaborate to protect against mismanagement of personal information. We must collectively seek a balance between the requirements of national security, the need for public safety and the conditions of an open and efficient economy.

In the submission, the Privacy Commissioner recommends practical measures for citizens, companies and governments to better manage the cross-border flow of personal information. Some measures include:

  • Citizens can lodge a complaint with the Privacy Commissioner or provincial and territorial commissioners, depending on the organization whose conduct has raised the concern if they feel that an organization subject to privacy laws has violated their privacy rights. Under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), please request a copy of the Office's Individuals Guide.
  • Private sector organizations can comply with their obligations under PIPEDA or similar provincial legislation to protect customers' personal information and to adopt appropriate safeguards. Under PIPEDA, organizations can request a copy of the Office's Business Guide.
  • Review by the federal government of PIPEDA and the Privacy Act to ensure that the highest standards of privacy protection relating to cross-border flow of personal information are met.
  • Enhanced federal/provincial/territorial cooperation in privacy protection and the promotion of a multi-stakeholder dialogue (private sector, civil society and other institutional partners) on privacy issues of national significance.

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Media contact:

Renée Couturier
Media Relations
Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
Tel: (613) 995-0103

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