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Phillips Cheers Promise of National Privacy Law

OTTAWA, May 23, 1996--Privacy Commissioner Bruce Phillips is heartened and more than a little relieved by the federal government's commitment to develop a national legislative framework to protect personal data.

"Recognition that privacy is a 'core Canadian value' requiring legal protection is a transforming moment. I hope they heard the cheering from here. The commitment comes just in time for a value increasingly battered and bruised by new information technologies, and endangered as government and business goes on line.

"A national data protection standard would ensure there are no Canadian data havens--jurisdictions which attract data handlers because of lax--or no--rules. It means giving Canadians privacy rights they can take to the bank--as well as to the supermarket and the video store. It means business will have clear standards and a level playing field based on the Canadian Standards Association Privacy Code--which they helped develop. And, at a time of tumbling trade barriers, it means Canadian business will have a data protection standard that meets that of trading partners in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. In short, everyone wins.

"Admittedly the details remain to be worked out. But this is an issue that touches every one of us personally. We can do it", said Phillips.

The undertaking by Industry Minister John Manley and Justice Minister Allan Rock appears in Building the Information Society: Moving Canada into the 21st Century, the government's response to the recommendations of the Information Highway Advisory Council, released today.

Information: Sally Jackson (613) 995-8566, 1(800) 267-0441

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