Privacy Law Changes in Quebec

LEGAL INSIGHTS

October 28, 2020

Manoug Alemian

Recently, the Quebec government introduced a bill that would change the current privacy law landscape of the province for both the public and private sectors. Especially in times of pandemic while many businesses are opting for a heightened digital presence, these changes come at a crucial point. If you are a business owner in Quebec or if you are planning on opening your business in Quebec, you might want to give this a read!

Photo by Ahmed Neji on Unsplash

The new digital era has forced us all to adapt to new innovations, inventions, and an unprecedented number of emerging technologies revolutionizing the world as we know it. However, this innovation comes new dangers and questions that governments continuously ask themselves regarding the protection of the general public. These dangers usually surround matters of privacy and data protection, amongst other important issues.

The New Privacy Laws in Quebec

Recently, the Quebec government introduced a bill that would change the current privacy law landscape of the province for both the public and private sectors. Especially in times of pandemic while many businesses are opting for a heightened digital presence, these changes come at a crucial point. If you are a business owner in Quebec or if you are planning on opening your business in Quebec, you might want to give this a read!

As a result of these changes, you will have a number of new obligations that you will need to abide by:

1. The person with the highest authority will be responsible for the protection of any personal information.

For instance, as a business, the person with the highest authority will be responsible for the protection of any personal information. That means if you call the shots, you must make sure that your company abides by Quebec’s new privacy laws. However, this task may be delegated to personnel of your business, but you will need to ensure that anyone using your website easily knows.

2. Privacy Policies are now required on all websites and must be up to date

As for your privacy policy that stands in the most obscure and unused corner of your website, you might need to review that once this bill comes into force. If you do not have a privacy policy, it’s time for you to get one, since any business with a website will require one. This privacy policy will have required terms that cannot be omitted, hence setting a minimum standard for the entire private sector regarding privacy laws.

3. Get acquainted with privacy impact assessments

If you collect any data or if you store any data, then you will need to start getting acquainted with privacy impact assessments. For instance, if you have a project regarding any information system project or electronic service delivery project, you must conduct a privacy impact assessment. When you collect data or store information, you will have an obligation of information towards that user of a number of important and essential details. As leaks and security breaches are becoming common, you will need to register and inform the Commission d’accès à l’information of any such incident. Of course, you will also need to reduce any future risks as well, so ramp up that security and be on the lookout!

4. Changes in the consent of minors and consent itself

Amongst the many changes as well, consent of minors and consent itself has changed. If you collect any personal information of an individual under fourteen, you will likely require the parent’s authorization. Regarding the consent of any other user, you must ensure that the consent is given for a specific purpose and in clear and simple terms. Long gone are the days of legalese in privacy policies! You will need to explain this purpose in the simplest of terms in order to achieve what we lawyers call a “free, clear, and manifest” consent. As for any personal information that’s kept with a third party, the law applies regardless, so no one is shielded it seems.

5. Privacy impact assessments are required even for personal information collected outside of Quebec

Finally, if you are going to use the personal information you collected outside of Quebec, you will need a privacy impact assessment again. Well, say for a moment that you tell yourself what many think: “Who is going to read my privacy policy?! Why should I change?” then stop. The Commission d’accès à l’information has new powers to investigate and punish! More importantly, hefty fines are listed that can go up to $25 million or even more in more specific cases. The Quebec Government is cracking down its whip and highlighting what it thinks of privacy protection: it’s super important.

So, you have a business or are about to enter into the amazing world of business with your start-up, make sure to speak to a professional about how you can get up to speed on many of these changes, update what you have, or prepare the necessary documents. And you’re in luck. We at Renno & Co offer these services, so be sure to book a consultation with us.

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