Privacy laws need to be adapted for digital age

by Andrew Roach on May 24, 2013

The debates surrounding online privacy have been numerous in recent months with watchdogs and industry experts investigating ways to improve and monitor the issue.

In the latest twist, a report by the Privacy Commissioner has slammed the current privacy laws that are in place to protect individuals.

During the unveiling of the results, Commissioner Jennifer Stoddard felt that the regulations were outdated and weren’t prepared to deal with access to the Internet from mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

There has been a lot of talk about refreshing online privacy regulations as more and more Canadians are using whatever device possible to access the Internet in their daily lives.

One of the biggest concerns that emerged from the report was that there wasn’t any serious punishment for those who were guilty of breaching privacy regulations.

At the moment, most offenders can only be name and shamed and receive a slap on the wrist for most breaches of online privacy. However, this could be set to change with plans now being drawn up to fine anyone found guilty of breaching privacy regulations.

On top of that, the Privacy Commissioner would also be given new powers which would allow them to directly enforce legal orders on offending parties rather than having to go through the Federal Court to create an order.

The concerns come as more and more people are using the Internet in their daily lives where they are placing an increasing amount of information online.

Whilst this information is provided to companies by their customers, some companies have used their records illegally to try and advertise their products as much as they possibly can.

By letting companies use invasive methods to acquire and collate data, the report showed that Canada could fall behind other Western nations in improving online privacy.

Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddard was exceptionally damning about the current state of the laws when discussing the report at the Canada Privacy Symposium. During the conference, she said that “it is increasingly clear that the law is not up to the task of meeting the challenges of today – and certainly not those of tomorrow.”

With the Canadian government particularly focusing on the matter of online privacy, it seems that it’s just a matter of time before we see major changes being introduced that will benefit and protect consumers personal details no matter where they are stored on the web.

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