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Data privacy is something we must truly take to heart, as it holds immense power to impact both individuals and organizations alike. In recognizing this, countries around the world, including Canada, have put forth their own data privacy laws. While many are familiar with HIPAA and GDPR, it’s essential not to overlook the numerous other regulations in place globally. Regardless of your industry or location, it’s crucial to handle data with care, ensuring it’s collected, stored, and disposed of responsibly.


Let’s talk about the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), a significant piece of legislation enacted on April 13, 2000. PIPEDA aims to protect the privacy rights of internet users by governing how businesses can collect, use, and disclose personal information. It’s all about limiting what businesses can do with our personal details, ensuring they’re only used for necessary purposes. Although it mainly concerns private businesses, PIPEDA also extends its reach to federally regulated organizations dealing with personally individually identifiable information (PII). Therefore, it’s crucial to understand what qualifies as personal information under PIPEDA. Do you know? Is your organization protecting all PII?

Not Just Facts: Opinions Count Too

Under PIPEDA, personal information isn’t just about basic details like names and addresses. It encompasses a wide range of data, including personal opinions expressed in surveys, cookie information, and even official evaluations. This broad scope means that any organization collecting data is responsible for its security. Businesses must obtain consent to collect, use, and share personal information while implementing measures to protect it. Failure to do so can lead to hefty fines and legal consequences. Are your consents in order?

Prioritizing Individual Privacy Rights:

In today’s digital age, our privacy rights are more important than ever. PIPEDA places a strong emphasis on protecting these rights, ensuring individuals have control over their personal information. Canadians have the right to know what data the government holds about them and to request corrections if needed. They also have the right to understand why data is collected, who’s responsible for its security, and the ability to report any privacy violations they encounter. Organizations must implement all measures to protect privacy, and have them ready for the public’s request of how this is handled within their organization. Meaning policies, auditing and remediation where needed is essential. And most important, the mechanisms established for reporting potential violations!

Applicability of PIPEDA

Whether you’re a local business or an international corporation, if you conduct commercial activities within Canadian territory, PIPEDA applies to you. While certain organizations like charities and nonprofits are exempt from certain aspects of PIPEDA, engaging in commercial activities beyond their core mission brings them under its purview. PIPEDA doesn’t cover government agencies’ public functions like law enforcement, but it becomes relevant when they engage in commercial activities.

Cross Border Data Transfer

Any entity transferring data across Canadian borders, regardless of location, falls under PIPEDA’s jurisdiction. This includes financial institutions, telecom providers, and transportation services. PIPEDA ensures personal information exchanged during commercial activities is protected, requiring compliance from all involved parties. Have you conducted your Risk Assessment? We can help you with this vital evaluation!

Steps for PIPEDA Compliance

Being accountable for the data we collect is paramount. Organizations must appoint individuals responsible for its privacy and security, communicate clearly about data collection purposes, and obtain explicit consent. Limiting data collection, specifying usage and retention periods, and implementing robust security measures are essential. Transparency and providing individuals access to review and correct their information are also critical. Our team of experts can assist your organization with maintaining compliance!

Challenging Compliance and Responding to Breaches

Individuals retain the right to challenge organizations’ compliance if they suspect misuse of their personal information. In the event of a data breach, organizations must report it promptly, notify affected individuals, and maintain breach records. Failure to comply with breach notification procedures can damage trust and reputation. We are the guardians of protection and our ready to assist with a breach event and your breach protection program.

Breaches Are Serious Business: Know What You Must Do in Case One Hits Your Institution

Anytime a person or persons view personal data without being authorized to do so; any unauthorized disclosure, or loss of data all constitute a data breach. In case such a breach constitutes a threat of serious personal harm ― which could be financial or reputational, result in loss of employment, or which might lead to severe bodily harm such as an injury ― the organization which has suffered the data breach must report it to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC) of Canada by submitting a PIPEDA breach report form. Further, the individual or individuals whose data has been breached must be notified at the earliest possible opportunity. The institution hit by the breach must maintain a record of all breaches for at least two years. Failure to comply with the breach notification procedures is tantamount to violation of PIPEDA. This in turn can cause loss of trust for the organization, and its reputation can take a severe hit.


Non-compliance with PIPEDA can have serious consequences for any organization conducting commercial activities in Canada. Adhering to PIPEDA’s requirements regarding data collection, storage, usage, and security is essential for safeguarding privacy and avoiding legal repercussions. Whether operating within Canada’s borders or engaging in cross-border data transfer, adherence to PIPEDA standards is non-negotiable.

Key Takeaways

  • Data privacy holds immense power to impact us all.
  • PIPEDA protects our privacy rights by governing how businesses handle our personal information.
  • Personal information under PIPEDA includes more than just basic details.
  • Our privacy rights are essential and must be protected.
  • PIPEDA applies to all commercial activities within Canada.
  • Compliance requires accountability, clear communication, and robust security measures.
  • Individuals have the right to challenge compliance and organizations must respond to breaches promptly.

We all have read the stories of privacy and security incidents that has compromised our private information. The incidents will continue to occur if we do not stand up our programs in a robust manner. Taking into account what I have provided today, think about your program design, think about how it may have weaknesses or vulnerabilities, and if you need help identifying them, Frigg Business Solutions is ready to be your solution.

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About the Author

By Tina C. Tolliver

Tina C. Tolliver, MJ, CCEP, CHPC, LPEC, CHCQM, PSRM - As an experienced compliance and ethics advisor, boasting over 20 years of dedicated service, I specialize in crafting and managing cutting-edge compliance programs tailored specifically for multi-specialty, multi-state healthcare organizations. My expertise extends across a spectrum of disciplines, including compliance, ethics, privacy, and risk management, as evidenced by the array of credentials and certifications I've accumulated over the years. Notably, my commitment to safeguarding patient privacy has been recognized through an esteemed award for outstanding contributions in this domain.
In my capacity as a chief ethics, compliance, and risk officer, I have been at the forefront of establishing formidable compliance frameworks that place paramount emphasis on privacy concerns. These frameworks seamlessly align with the stringent standards set forth by regulatory bodies, in addition to incorporating industry best practices. My track record speaks volumes, with a proven ability to execute meticulous annual risk assessments, audit plans, and remediation strategies, yielding substantial cost savings, ensuring audit preparedness, and fostering an unwavering ethical culture within organizations. Furthermore, my adept handling and closure of complex CID and Qui tam cases underscore my steadfast commitment to upholding privacy standards and ethical conduct.
Driven by an unyielding passion for ethical governance, I am resolute in my mission to thwart unethical behaviors, uphold regulatory compliance, and deliver tangible value to my clients and stakeholders alike. Presently, I am actively seeking opportunities within the realm of ethics, compliance, and risk, where principles of integrity and values are not only embraced but celebrated as foundational pillars of operation. Additionally, my penchant for writing and consulting uniquely positions me to offer comprehensive insights and guidance in navigating the intricate landscape of privacy and compliance in healthcare settings.