Canada's privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart said the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada needs more power so she can do her job as an advocate for the privacy rights of Canadians.
Stoddart said that because she isn't able to impose financial penalties on companies who fail to comply with the decisions made by her commission, the efforts her office is making are not working.
"We have seen large corporations, in the name of consultation with my office, pay lip service to our concerns and then ignore our advice," Stoddart said.
"There has to be a system of penalties and fines, something that will serve as an incentive to invest in the protection of data, and will also serve as a deterrent as well if there is a data breach."
She cited the example of major multinational corporations like Google and Facebook, which have access to limitless amounts of Canadians' personal data, saying she feels increasingly powerless due to the commission's inability to enforce penalties for any breaches on their parts.
The current powers of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada include:
- investigating complaints, conducting audits and pursuing court action under two federal laws;
- publicly reporting on the personal information-handling of public and private sector organizations;
- supporting, undertaking and publishing research into privacy issues; and
- promoting public awareness and understanding of privacy issues.