Canada Data Privacy

With the knowledge of what a recession can mean, the very thought of another one can create anxiety and stress for individuals and businesses. The last few recessions around the world have had devastating effects, taking many years to recover from and reignite consumer confidence. When a recession is looming, it’s clear that something has to be done.

When considering the different actions that countries have taken to recover from economic distress, it’s usually tangible strategies that come to mind. Recovery commonly begins with strides towards developing new products, gathering resources like oil, or building more homes or commercial structures. Most people do not typically associate ‘enterprise data’ as a solution for getting out of a recession. However, in the case of Canada, which is fighting back to save their economy from slipping into a recession, the new ‘data economy’ offers a powerful source of revenue opportunity thanks to the country’s revolutionary privacy laws.

According to Trulioo, Canada is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the growth in the data economy and decrease its dependence on traditional sectors such as natural resources and construction.

“Canada has a solid track record for innovation as well as a highly educated and highly skilled workforce,” said Stephen Ufford, CEO and Founder of Trulioo. “We have the legal framework, expertise, and know-how needed to be a global leader in the data-driven economy.”

The Impact and Transparency within Canada’s Privacy Laws

Canada’s burgeoning data economy leads with transparency and strict privacy laws. There is an overwhelming fear among people there – and everywhere, for that matter -- about having personal data being picked apart and sold off to the highest bidder. Recent safe harbor rulings in the European Union have the U.S. scrambling to figure out a solution for their data storage needs, which opens the way for Canada, which may be able to leverage its privacy laws for an economic opportunity.

In fact, Canada has a series of robust privacy laws for personal information hubs just for this reason. The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) went into law on April 13, 2000. It is designed to bring peace of mind to consumers in a variety of ways that highlight Canada’s position for global data centers. The implications are that these laws protect both the consumers and the companies that are collecting the data.

“In my opinion, the concept of User as Owner– the idea that one’s data is one’s own – should be pushed to the forefront due to its simplicity and overarching philosophy,” said Ufford. “User as Owner combines personal rights with technology and turns a blind eye to geography, age, income level and citizenship in order to place everyone on a level playing field. This approach is in line with the fundamental nature of the Internet.”

PIPEDA also provides individuals with the right to know why any group collects or discloses their personal data. It is this transparency that should help to restore the faith in individuals that are looking to invest, buy products from, or associate with Canadian organizations. PIPEDAalso ensures that the companies collecting an individual’s data only use the information in very specific ways. For example, organizations cannot use data for any other means without the consent of the individual, which adds an extra layer of privacy. Another big factor is that individuals can view and amend their personal data whenever they feel the need to do so. There are no hoops to jump through or long wait times required. Instead, the information is readily available for viewing and changing, as necessary. A few other countries could certainly take a page out of this information protection policy, in the best interests of their citizens’ privacy.

On June 18, 2015, some amendments were made to the Act. The most notable amendment calls for a mandatory breach notification. This section states that if a company experiences a breach in their security, then the individuals affected and the Privacy Commissioner of Canada must be notified if the breach potentially creates a risk of harm for individuals or their information. The amendment goes on to state that organizations must keep strict records on any security breaches so that they can be readily available and accessed upon request.

“How personally identifiable information (PII) is currently handled by businesses and government is a very sensitive issue because of the increasing number of data breaches,” Ufford stated. “Exporting PII across countries and jurisdictions is a recipe for disaster, increasing the risk for data breaches and regulatory compliance issues. Canadian companies are in the best position to enable the enterprise to leverage their global data assets with innovative technologies in a safe, highly regulated environment ”

What Big Data and the Privacy Laws Mean for Halting Canada’s Recession

Overall, Canada has some of the most transparent and detailed privacy legislation out there when it comes to organizations and personal information. The result may be to increase Canada’s monetary value, restore consumer confidence, and offer business intelligence through data access and analytics. Big data has been pegged to solve many of today’s business problems in terms of providing the insights necessary to more effectively meet a diverse audience with the information, products, and services that will help them. Further, to manage this data and better leverage it, there has been a need for talent to fill positions, generating great opportunity for new jobs.

Over time, there may be more organizations keeping their data hubs in Canada, knowing that these privacy laws are serving as reliable protection. If an influx of organizations shift to Canadian soil, this could offer an additional benefit on top of what Big Data can do for local Canadian companies in terms of better addressing consumer and business needs. Now, it’s just a matter of seeing how Canada handles this opportunity to proactively change the impending recession and turn it into a profit generator.

This article originally appeared in CNN's iReport.