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British Columbia re-writes its public sector data sovereignty rules

December 9, 2021

Recent amendments relax cross-border restrictions 

In October and November, the government of British Columbia introduced and passed Bill 22, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Amendment Act, 2021 that significantly alters the public sector privacy and access law for the province. Most notably for technology law practitioners, the Bill repealed the data sovereignty limitations found in sections 30.1 and 33.1 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. In their place, a replacement section 33.1 has been added:

 

Disclosure outside of Canada

33.1 A public body may disclose personal information outside of Canada only if the disclosure is in accordance with the regulations, if any, made by the minister responsible for this Act. 

Another amendment permits the temporary disclosure of information for machine processing outside of Canada and specific rules for metadata: 

33 (2) A public body may disclose personal information in any of the following circumstances: …

(u) if the disclosure is necessary for the processing of information and the following apply:

(i) the processing does not involve the intentional accessing of the information by an individual;

(ii) any processing done outside of Canada is temporary;

(v) if the information is metadata and the following apply:

(i) the metadata is generated by an electronic system;

(ii) the metadata describes an individual's interaction with the electronic system;

(iii) if practicable, information in individually identifiable form has been removed from the metadata or destroyed;

(iv) in the case of disclosure to a service provider, the public body has prohibited subsequent use or disclosure of information in individually identifiable form without the express authorization of the public body;

So far, there has been no indication when (or whether) the government intends to introduce regulations related to the disclosures outside of Canada as contemplated under the replacement section 33.1.

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