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CANADIAN BUSINESSES SEE OPPORTUNITIES IN COMPLYING WITH PRIVACY LEGISLATION

Source: PXNEWSFLASH

Posted on January 30, 2004

      Some Canadian business people see complying with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) as an opportunity for branding and marketing.

      Attorney Dick Van Wyck says, "it's all about consent." Companies need consent to collect information about customers, and must let customers see the personal information they have collected, and allow them to correct it. They need to identify and document the reason for collecting it and limit the collection to what is essential. Once collected, that information must be protected and then destroyed after a reasonable time.

      Personal information includes name, age, ID numbers, income, ethnicity, opinions, employee files, credit records, medical records, and intentions to make a purchase or change a job.

      Jim Milloy, President of Action International Business Coaching, admits it might be a bit more work initially, but could generate long-term benefits. "Getting consent is a great opportunity to get in touch with clients," said Milloy. "It shows we're up to date and taking them seriously."

      It will take some time for some companies to get up to speed with the consent requirements. But, Assistant Commissioner of Privacy for Canada Heather Black advises people to ask companies how they got their name.

      The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has a staff of about 100 whose duties include education, investigation and mediation. Black admits that many companies don't know what is involved, but ignorance of the law does not excuse breaking it. And long term, she says, compliance will pay off as consumers choose to do business with companies that respect their privacy.




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