Diane McLeod-McKay, the territory’s information and privacy commissioner, says Yukon organizations and businesses should be aware of the myriad privacy laws that apply to them. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)

Every Yukon organization needs a privacy primer

Diane McLeod-McKay | Special to the News

Privacy laws are in place to safeguard your personal information and protect you.

We marked International Data Privacy Day this year on Jan. 28 and as your privacy commissioner, I want to highlight steps being taken to enhance the protection of citizens’ personal information.

In Canada, every jurisdiction has privacy laws that protect the personal information of citizens and has privacy commissioners responsible for monitoring compliance. Most other countries also have privacy laws and privacy commissioners.

The need to enhance privacy protection is now greater than ever, due to advances in technology. Governments and businesses are able to collect massive amounts of personal information, which can be easily processed, transmitted and breached.

Privacy laws allow individuals to control their own personal information. These laws impose limits on the collection, use and disclosure of personal information by governments and businesses. They also require personal information to be properly secured so that breaches do not occur.

A privacy breach can harm an individual. In recognition of this, most newly-drafted privacy laws include a requirement that governments and businesses notify individuals about a breach that may cause them harm. There is also usually a requirement that privacy commissioners be informed about the breach.

The purpose of breach reporting is to ensure individuals know about a breach so they may take steps to prevent any potential harm, and to ensure privacy commissioners can monitor breaches and help with prevention.

Health care providers in Yukon’s public and private sectors must comply with the Health Information Privacy and Management Act (HIPMA), which requires reporting of any breaches. A health care provider must notify an individual (and Yukon’s privacy commissioner) following a privacy breach where there is a risk of significant harm to the individual. If found guilty of failing to do this, fines are between $10,000 and $100,000.

Yukon’s Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (ATIPP), in effect since 1995, applies to public bodies, including the Yukon government. The ATIPP Act does not have mandatory breach reporting requirements, but they may be included when the legislation is amended following the current comprehensive review.

There are also privacy laws which govern the private sector. The federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) applies to the collection, use and disclosure of personal information by an organization in the course of commercial activity. PIPEDA applies to all private sector organizations in Yukon, including private sector health care providers. It also applies to federal works, undertakings or businesses including banks, and telecommunications and transportation companies.

PIPEDA was recently amended to include mandatory breach reporting. Once in effect, the requirement to notify an individual (and the federal privacy commissioner) about a breach will be triggered when an organization determines the breach creates a real risk of significant harm to the individual. Failures to report a breach are subject to fines similar to those in HIPMA.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a European Union law that includes mandatory breach reporting requirements. It will come into effect in May 2018. This law is said to have “extraterritorial” reach because it will apply to an organization that collects, uses or discloses personal information of EU citizens while offering goods or services to them or monitoring their behavior, no matter where the organization is located. Since EU residents visit Yukon every year, it is possible that Yukon businesses may find themselves subject to the GDPR.

The GDPR requires organizations to notify the appropriate supervisory authority within 72 hours about a breach of personal information and without undue delay when the breach is likely to result in a high risk to their rights and freedoms. The fines can be up to 10 million euros or two per cent of the organization’s global turnover (whichever is higher).

The best way for public or private sector organizations in Yukon to avoid being found in violation of mandatory breach reporting requirements is to identify a “privacy contact,” i.e. someone in the organization to be responsible for privacy and to develop breach reporting policy and procedure.

All staff need to be trained on the policy and procedure, so that they know what a privacy breach is and who to call when one is discovered. The policy should require employees to notify the organization’s privacy contact immediately upon learning of a breach. The privacy contact must be trained on how to effectively manage a breach and on the mandatory breach reporting requirements in applicable laws.

All Yukoners and businesses will benefit if privacy laws are understood and followed so that privacy breaches are avoided. For more information go to ombudsman.yk.ca.

Diane McLeod-McKay is the Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner.

PIPEDAprivacy

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Members of the RCMP’s traffic services team examine police markers on Range Road after a six-year-old boy was struck by a vehicle near the Takhini Arena in Whitehorse on Oct. 25. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Six-year-old hit by vehicle near Takhini Arena

Police were called to the scene around 12:15 p.m. on Oct. 25

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks to media at a press conference about COVID-19 in Whitehorse on March 30. Two new cases of COVID-19 were identified in Watson Lake over the weekend. The cases are connected to three others in the community previously announced by officials on Oct. 23. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Two additional COVID-19 cases in Watson Lake bring total up to five

Individuals with symptoms and connections to the three other cases were tested over the weekend

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks to media at a press conference about COVID-19 in Whitehorse on March 30. The Yukon government announced three new cases of COVID-19 in Watson Lake on Oct. 23. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three new COVID-19 cases identified in Watson Lake

The Yukon government has identified three locations in town where public exposure may have occurred

Teagan Wiebe, left, and Amie Wiebe pose for a photo with props during The Guild’s haunted house dress rehearsal on Oct. 23. The Heart of Riverdale Community Centre will be hosting its second annual Halloween haunted house on Oct. 30 and 31, with this year’s theme being a plague. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Plague-themed haunted house to take over Heart of Riverdale for Halloween

A plague will be descending upon the Heart of Riverdale Community Centre… Continue reading

Indigenous lobster boats head from the harbour in Saulnierville, N.S. on Oct. 21. Elected officials in the Yukon, including all 19 members of the legislature, are backing the right of Mi’kmaq fishers on the East Coast to launch a moderate livelihood fishery. (Andrew Vaughan/CP)
Yukon legislature passes motion to support Mi’kmaw fishery

“It’s not easy, but it’s also necessary for us to have these very difficult conversations”

The Yukon government is asking for all claims in a lawsuit over the Takhini elk herd be struck by the court. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Yukon government asks for Takhini elk lawsuit to be struck

The Yukon government is asking for all claims in a lawsuit over… Continue reading

The Yukon government has filed a reply to an outfitter’s petition challenging the reduction of its caribou quota to zero. (Yukon News file)
YG replies to outfitter’s legal challenge over caribou quota

The Yukon government has filed a reply to an outfitter’s petition challenging… Continue reading

The Yukon government is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this year, saying that with COVID-19, it’s “more important than ever.” (Black Press file)
Get flu vaccine, Yukon government urges

The Yukon government is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this… Continue reading

Benjamin Munn, 12, watches the HPV vaccine in 2013. Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available to all Yukoners up to, and including, age 26. Currently the program is only available to girls ages nine to 18 and boys ages nine to 14. (Dan Bates/Black Press file)
HPV vaccine will be available to Yukoners up to, including, age 26

Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

asdf
COMMENTARY: Me and systemic racism

The view from a place of privilege

asdf
Today’s mailbox: Electricity and air travel

Letters to the editor published Oct. 23, 2020

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Irony versus Climate

Lately it seems like Irony has taken over as Editor-in-Chief at media… Continue reading

Most Read