[co-author: Adam Williams – Articling Student]
In Reference re Subsection 18.3(1) of the Federal Courts Act (the Reference), the Federal Court of Canada held that the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, SC 2000, c 5 (PIPEDA) applies to internet search engines when they index webpages and present search results in response to searches of an individual’s name.
This issue was determined by the Court on a reference by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) in connection with an investigation of a complaint against Google. The complaint alleges that Google contravened PIPEDA by displaying links to news articles that contained personal and sensitive information about the complainant. The complaint raises, in part, the question of whether or not PIPEDA includes a “right to be forgotten.”
In a 2018 document entitled “Draft OPC Position on Online Reputation,” the OPC asserted that PIPEDA provides two key mechanisms for “enhancing one’s control over their online reputation”; namely that individuals can: (i) challenge the accuracy, completeness and currency of results returned for searches on their name; and (ii) require that personal information that is no longer needed be destroyed, erased or made anonymous. In the draft, the OPC noted that the language of PIPEDA does not expressly provide for the two mechanisms identified by the OPC. However, as described below, such express language could be included in expected reforms to PIPEDA…