COVID-19 pandemic accelerating digital privacy risks, federal watchdog warns


OTTAWA — The federal privacy czar says the COVID-19 pandemic is underscoring weaknesses in the law that place the personal information of Canadians at risk.

In his annual report presented to Parliament today, privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien warns the pandemic is fuelling rapid societal and economic changes at a time when outdated laws provide inadequate protection.

Therrien says the pandemic has accelerated the digital revolution, bringing both benefits as well as risks for privacy.

He cites the heated debates about contact-tracing applications and their effect on privacy, and the fact many have been asked to provide details about their health at the airport, or before entering workplaces and stores.

Therrien has long called for modernization of Canada’s privacy laws, which lag behind those of many countries.

He says a recovery based on innovation will be sustainable only if rights are protected through stronger legislation.