Canada’s new data breach law, The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (“PIPEDA”), took effect on November 1. Official guidance released by the country’s Privacy Commissioner explains a few of the law’s key provisions that will affect organizations, specifically, breach reporting and notification obligations, their triggers, and record retention.
Reporting & Notification Obligations
Under the new law, an organization must report and notify individuals of a data breach involving personal information under its control if it reasonably determines the breach creates a “real risk of significant harm” to an individual, regardless of the number of individuals affected. (The guidance states a covered breach that affects only one individual would nonetheless require reporting and notification.) Importantly, the organization that controls the data is required to report and notify individuals of the breach—the guidance clarifies that even when an organization has transferred data to a third-party processor, the organization remains ultimately responsible for reporting and notification. The guidance encourages organizations to mitigate their risk in the event their third-party processor faces a breach by entering sufficient contractual arrangements.
Notification to individuals must be given “as soon as feasible” after the organization has determined a covered breach has occurred. The guidance states the notification must be conspicuous, understandable, and given directly to the individual in most circumstances. It must include enough information to communicate the significance of the breach and allow the those affected to take any steps possible to reduce their risk of harm. The regulations further specify the information a notification must include. In certain circumstances, organizations are also required to notify governmental institutions or organizations of a covered breach; for example, an organization may be required to notify law enforcement if it believes it may be able to reduce the risk of harm.