Canada’s privacy commissioner issues guidance on privacy during COVID-19

"During a public health crisis, privacy laws still apply"

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) issued guidance for organizations to better understand privacy obligations during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“During a public health crisis, privacy laws still apply, but they are not a barrier to appropriate information sharing,” the OPC stated in the announcement.

Documentation shared by the OPC provides general guidance for organizations subject to federal privacy laws. Further, it includes guidance for applying the Privacy Act, which covers the handling of personal information by federal government departments and agencies, as well as the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), during the outbreak.

PIPEDA is Canada’s federal privacy law for private-sector companies.

The OPC says all organizations must “continue to operate with lawful authority and exercise good judgement.”

Further, the announcement notes that the OPC is available to assist organizations subject to PIPEDA and the Privacy Act with questions. However, it also says that there may be delays in the OPC’s response to requests due to COVID-19.

Source: OPC