New Legislation to Protect Privacy

Department of Justice

May 5, 2006 11:15 AM

New provincial legislation will better ensure that Nova Scotians' personal information is not disclosed under the U.S. Patriot Act.

The new Personal Information International Disclosure Protection Act outlines a series of requirements and penalties that protect personal information from inappropriate disclosure.

"We know that American security legislation has led to concerns about the ability to access personal information of Nova Scotians held outside Canada," said Murray Scott, Minister of Justice. "This legislation clearly outlines the responsibilities of public bodies, municipalities and technology service providers, and the consequences if they are not fulfilled."

The act provides protection regarding storage, disclosure and access to personal information outside of Canada in the custody or under the control of a public body or municipality.

Under the act, the minister of Justice must be notified if there is a foreign demand for disclosure of any personal information of Nova Scotians. It also requires that service providers storing information only collect and use personal information necessary for their work for a public body or municipality.

The act also address "whistleblower" protection for employees of external service providers to ensure they are protected if they report an offense under the act. Whistleblower protection for Nova Scotia government staff already exists under the Civil Service Act.

"In order for these measures to be successful, staff must be sure they will be protected if they come forward to report wrongdoing under this act," said Mr. Scott.

Penalties under the act include up to $2,000 per government employee for malicious disclosure by employees of public bodies and municipalities. The act also creates offences for service providers, with penalties of up to $2,000 for employees and $500,000 for companies.

Offences relate to the improper storage, collection, use, or disclosure, failure to notify the minister of Justice of foreign disclosure demands, and improper discipline or termination of employees.

"We are putting in place serious and significant penalties to protect the privacy of Nova Scotians," said Mr. Scott.

The minister also announced that the Wills Act is being amended. Updates will bring it more in line with other Canadian jurisdictions. The amendments respond to recommendations of the Law Reform Commission and will make it easier for people to ensure their final wishes are fulfilled by clarifying the effect divorces have on wills and the distribution of property in Nova Scotia under wills made outside the province. It will also permit handwritten wills.

The province is also introducing a number of housekeeping amendments under the Justice Administration Act.


FOR BROADCAST USE:

     Justice Minister Murray Scott has introduced new provincial

legislation that will help ensure Nova Scotians' personal

information is not at risk from activities under the U.S. Patriot

Act.

      The new Personal Information International Disclosure

Protection Act outlines a series of requirements and penalties

that protect personal information from inappropriate disclosure.

     The act provides protection regarding storage, disclosure

and access to personal information in the custody or under the

control of a public body or municipality.

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Media Contact: Cathy MacIsaac
              Department of Justice
              902-424-3313
              E-mail: macisl@gov.ns.ca