How to Manage PIPEDA Compliance Before and After a Security Breach

PIPEDA goes beyond proactive data security and defines corporate responsibilities after you experience a breach. Stay compliant with these basic steps.

The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, also known as PIPEDA, covers all aspects of personal data governance both in the private commercial sector and within federal organizations. While the Act doesn’t apply to provinces or territories that have similar privacy laws—namely Alberta, Québec, and British Columbia—if your business or data extends into other provinces, you’re responsible for PIPEDA compliance.

Complying with PIPEDA goes beyond proactive security and data protection. Certain regulations and standards also apply when your business experiences a security breach. What are your responsibilities in keeping your customers’ personal data secure? Follow these steps to stay on top of PIPEDA standards.

PIPEDA Data Breach

Understanding PIPEDA

Before we dive into security breach compliance, let’s outline the basics of PIPEDA for your business. The Act applies to how private-sector organizations “collect, use, and disclose personal information in the course of for-profit, commercial activities across Canada.”

But what is personal information, exactly? According to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, personal information is any data that can be used to identify an individual. This can apply to data conveying marital status, health or employment history, age, race, or ethnicity, as well as driver’s license or social insurance information. All of these categories and more fall under the protection of PIPEDA.

Breach of Security Safeguards

When your security is breached, it falls under the company’s purview to apply certain steps in both shoring up data security and communicating the breach to the necessary parties. A security breach can apply to several different scenarios, but the most significant factor is the personal data your company collects or discloses. What that means is, when any client’s personal information is compromised, lost, or accessed without authorization. A breach can even include sharing personal data without the customer’s consent.

Regardless of how your security breach happens, these are the steps your business is required to follow in order to comply with PIPEDA.

  1. Report all breaches to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada when they cause “risk of significant harm” to individuals.
  2. Notify the individuals whose personal information has been impacted
  3. Keep clear records of all breaches

These same regulations apply to business both small and large, and it is important to note that lack of compliance can result in fines for your business.

One question many businesses have when working within PIPEDA is what it means to put personal information at risk of significant harm. These are the only breaches that fall under the requirement for reporting.

The Act defines significant risk as any breach that causes “bodily harm, humiliation, damage to reputation or relationships, loss of employment, business or professional opportunities, financial loss, identity theft, negative effects on the credit record and damage to or loss of property.” If your security breach does not fall into that category, then your only responsibility as a business is to protect yourself from future data breaches.

Security Support and Compliance Management

Understanding and managing the many elements of PIPEDA compliance for your business can be daunting. Managed IT and Cybersecurity support from local experts is the most cost-effective and efficient way to ensure your company is safe from security breaches while also remaining PIPEDA compliant. Compunet Infotech offers customized security and IT management for Vancouver-based firms seeking skilled, local IT support.