The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, more frequently referred to as PIPEDA, is a Canadian law that stipulates certain guidelines and regulations for how “private sector organizations may collect, use, or disclose personal information in the course of commercial activities.” The law is in place primarily to protect e-commerce customers and to prevent businesses from collecting or using an individual’s personal information without their knowledge.
PIPEDA became official Canadian law on April 13th, 2000. The act was originally enacted with the goal of protecting customers in the e-commerce space. As online retailers like Amazon.com became increasingly popular at the turn of the century, the ways in which businesses collected customers’ private information—and the purposes for which they used it—changed. To this day, with social media and other newer online developments, those purposes continue to expand and evolve. In Canada, PIPEDA is what keeps online businesses in check when it comes to customer privacy.
A Brief PIPEDA Overview
If you are interested in learning the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act backward and forward, you can read the full text of the law on the Canadian Justice Laws Website. If you would prefer a quick rundown of the key talking points of the law, read on for our basic overview.
Perhaps the most important aspects of PIPEDA are the regulations and requirements it places on businesses and organizations to prevent abuse of customer information. First and foremost, PIPEDA demands that all organizations obtain consent from customers before collecting, using, or disclosing any of their personal information. Customers who do not provide this consent cannot be barred from receiving a product or service from the organization in question.
Companies must also make sure that their policies on personal information collection, use, and disclosure are easily accessible at all times, for all parties, and that those policies can be easily read and understood by any customer. For most e-commerce companies, that requirement probably means that these policies should either be linked to an FAQ webpage or included visibly in a terms and conditions document to which all customers agree.
PIPEDA also gives customers in e-commerce transactions numerous rights regarding their personal information. These rights include, but are not limited to, the following:
- A customer can expect a company or organization to seek their consent prior to making any use of their personal information.
- A customer can expect a company to present their policies on personal information use in a clear and accessible way so that the customer can know how and why his or her personal information is being collected.
- A customer can hold an organization responsible for protecting their personal information in a secure fashion.
- A customer can request access to their personal information at any time if a company or organization is storing and using that information. The customer, in turn, has the right to update (or request updates to) that information at any time, should it be inaccurate or out-of-date.
- A customer can vocalize any issues they have with a company’s personal information collection policies. Customers who feel their privacy rights have been violated in the e-commerce space are encouraged by PIPEDA to speak up.
The Benefits of PIPEDA
The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act is obviously beneficial to customers. The law gives individuals the peace-of-mind of knowing that their personal information is being used in fair and legal ways. However, the law—and other related Canadian privacy measures—is also highly beneficial for businesses.
Indeed, in 2000, PIPEDA essentially took a new, unfamiliar, and uncomfortable industry (e-commerce) and turned it into something that was regulated with different checks and balances. As a result, the privacy measures of PIPEDA have encouraged e-commerce, social media, and other online activities over the past 15 years. It is unlikely that e-commerce would be as big in Canada as it is without a law like PIPEDA to ensure customers that their personal information won’t be abused, but will be secure.
Why You Should Implement eSignatures in Your Business
As PIPEDA has encouraged more and more companies to do their business online, new measures for online security and identity verification have become necessary. One secure measure is the electronic signature, which PIPEDA actually mentions several times. For instance, per PIPEDA, “A statement required to be made under oath or solemn affirmation under a provision of a federal law may be made in electronic form if the person who makes the statement signs it with that person’s secure electronic signature.”
Electronic signatures have also become increasingly popular for day-to-day business tasks. If you run a business and have been considering implementing eSignatures, now is the time to do it. The benefits of this authentication option are huge and plentiful, and as you can see from PIPEDA, eSignatures are secure enough to earn a government endorsement.
What sort of advantages could your business see from adopting electronic signatures? The first and most obvious benefits are speed and convenience. Sometimes, you will be able to get a document signed in person—like if you need an on-site employee to fill out a tax form. Other times, though—for example, if a cross-country client or partner needs to sign a new contract—eSignatures can greatly expedite the process. Instead of having to print out a contract, mail it to your client, and wait a week or longer to get the signed contract back, you can email the contract and get an e-signed version of it back within an hour.
Add paper and postal savings and the ease of editing or revising digital drafts—whether to rectify errors or typos or to update a form for a new year—eSignatures are a logical implementation for any business.
If you are looking to implement electronic signatures in your organization, eFileCabinet is a great way to do it. A document management system ideal for digitizing your office’s files and going paperless, eFileCabinet also has eSignature integration with RightSignature. And since one of the major draws of our software is that it allows you to set up user-specific permissions on different files and documents, it’s easy to send contracts or forms to specific people and get their signatures quickly.
Are you interested in trying out eFileCabinet and experiencing our eSignature feature for yourself? Visit our website, at www.efilecabinet.com, to read more about our software. Once there, you can also click the “Free Demo” tab at the side of the page to fill out a form and get a free 15-minute preview of the eFileCabinet software.