July 14, 2022

Understanding PIPEDA

Nabeel Keblawi

Understanding PIPEDA

Staying compliant is crucial for businesses as it allows them to avoid abuse, fraud, and discrimination. Staying compliant will also enable businesses to secure their operations from disruptive practices that usually result in hefty fines, penalties, lawsuits, loss of reputation, and more. 

Compliance is achieved through following various acts and rules, depending on the industry of the business. One of those acts is PIPEDA, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, which defines how companies can use the personal information of their clients and customers.

We decided to explain what PIPEDA is and give you an in-depth overview of why it’s crucial.

What Is PIPEDA? 

PIPEDA is the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. It is a Canadian law that sets out rules for how organizations must handle the personal information of individuals. 

The act includes provisions for obtaining consent, safeguarding personal information, providing access to personal information, and handling complaints. PIPEDA applies to all organizations with a presence in Canada, regardless of whether they are public or private sector. 

These organizations must comply with PIPEDA unless they are exempt under provincial or territorial law. All organizations that are subject to PIPEDA must also meet specific standards concerning the handling of personal information. 

These standards are set out in the Privacy Principles section of the act. PIPEDA is enforced by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC), which investigates complaints and promotes compliance with the act. 

The OPC also has the power to issue orders and impose fines for infringements of PIPEDA. However, this power is only used in cases where the business is found to have been willfully or recklessly non-compliant with the act.

What Are PIPEDA Requirements and Principles?

Now, after we have explained what PIPEDA is, let’s see some of its requirements and principles.

What PIPEDA Requirements Are There?

When it comes to PIPEDA requirements, businesses need to take steps to protect their customers' personal information. This includes ensuring that customer information is accurately collected and stored, only used for the purposes for which it was collected, and kept up-to-date. 

The act covers information identifying an individual, such as a name, home address, email address, or bank account number. 

In addition, businesses must take reasonable steps to safeguard customer information from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure. 

Lastly, businesses must be transparent about their policies and practices surrounding the handling of customer information. By taking these steps, companies can help build customer trust and ensure that they comply with PIPEDA requirements.

Organizations subject to PIPEDA must take steps to protect personal information from unauthorized disclosure and provide individuals with access to their own personal information upon request. PIPEDA also requires organizations to obtain consent before collecting, using, or disclosing personal information.

Finally, PIPEDA includes provisions for handling the personal information of children and others who may be unable to give consent. These provisions are designed to protect the privacy rights of vulnerable individuals while still allowing organizations to collect and use personal information.

10 PIPEDA Principles

PIPEDA has ten principles that govern the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information, including:

1. Accountability: Organizations must be responsible for the personal information they collect, use, and disclose. They must appoint someone to be accountable for compliance with PIPEDA. Accountability is the cornerstone principle, meaning that organizations must take responsibility for protecting people's personal information.

2. Identifying Purposes: Organizations must identify the purposes for which they collect, use, and disclose personal information at or before the time of collection

3. Consent: Organizations must obtain an individual's consent before collecting, using, or disclosing their personal information, unless an exception applies.

4. Limiting Collection: Organizations must only collect the amount of personal information that is necessary for the identified purpose(s).

5. Limiting Use, Disclosure, and Retention: Personal information must only be used or disclosed for the purpose(s) for which it was collected unless an exception applies. It should also be kept only as long as necessary to fulfill those purpose(s).

6. Accuracy: Companies should keep personal information accurate, complete, and up-to-date and determine rules that govern what types of information need to be updated.

7. Safeguard: Companies must protect personal information against loss, theft, or unauthorized access.

8. Openness: Companies should make their personal information management practices clear and easy to understand. 

9. Individual access: Individuals should be able to access the personal information organization has about them, and they should be able to challenge the accuracy and completeness of the information.

10. Challenging Compliance: Individuals should be able to challenge an organization’s compliance and address their doubts to the company. 

PIPEDA vs. GDPR

Two of the most important data privacy laws are the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) in Canada and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union. Both laws have been designed to protect the personal information of individuals, but there are some key differences between them.

PIPEDA applies to any organization that collects, uses, or discloses personal information for commercial purposes. GDPR, on the other hand, applies to all organizations that process the personal data of individuals in the EU, regardless of whether they are engaged in commercial activity.

Another key difference is that PIPEDA gives individuals the right to access their personal information and request corrections if it is inaccurate. GDPR gives individuals even more control over their personal data, including the right to have their data erased under certain circumstances.

Finally, PIPEDA includes provisions for enforcement by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, while GDPR is enforced by each individual EU member state.

Overall, both PIPEDA and GDPR offer strong protections for personal data. However, organizations operating in Canada and the EU need to be aware of the different requirements under each law.

CometChat Is Now PIPEDA Compliant!

Chat apps are one of the most commonly used communication and collaboration tools, and it’s vital for companies to use safe chat solutions that will help them avoid liability and ensure the privacy of business and users’ information.

Besides security features such as end-to-end encryption and MFA (multi-factor authentication), businesses looking for a secure messaging solution should ensure the said solution is compliant with regulations applied in their industry, such as HIPAA, GDPR, and PIPEDA.

We’re proud to announce that CometChat is now PIPEDA compliant! Not a small thing, especially if we consider that many of our competitors in the market don’t offer the same levels of compliance.

CometChat is committed to providing the highest security standards to its clients and adheres to the most rigorous security protocols, now and in the future.

By using CometChat services, businesses can rest assured their business will stay compliant and that their business and customer information will be well kept and preserved from prying eyes and malicious attacks—something few chat app providers can afford!

If you want to learn how CometChat achieved PIPEDA compliance, or have questions on how to implement one of the safest and most secure in-app messaging platforms on the market, get in touch with our team today!

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