Many countries have different approaches to data protection and information privacy. However, the increasing interconnectedness of people around the globe through online business, communications and social media has created a convergence of privacy law, prompting countries to approach data and information law in a common way.
The European Union
The European Union has the most comprehensive sets of information privacy laws in the world. Every European Union citizen has the right to personal data protection. In 1995, the European Commission ratified the Data Protection Directive. The directive applies to all entities that collect, use or process personal data in all European Union member states. Under the European Union’s law, personal data can only be collected for legitimate purposes under strict conditions. The European Union also created the Data Protection Directive to handle the transfer of EU citizen’s data outside of the EU member states. Also, the European Union mandates that all member states enforce privacy laws by keeping a National Data Protection Authority active to investigate privacy violations.
For more information, please visit the European Commission’s site on Data Protection here.
Canada uses a cooperative approach between government and industry to regulate privacy and data protection. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) “protects and promotes” individual’s privacy and also enforces the Privacy Act. Canada passed the Privacy Act in 1983, which regulates the use of Canadian citizens’ data by the government. The Privacy Act focuses on personal information-handling practices of Canadian federal government departments and agencies. It also covers information collected by the Canadian private sector under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).
For more information on Canadian privacy law, please visit the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada here.