Protection of Personal Information in Quebec: The Impact of Major Reforms on your Franchise Network (BB-E1324)
Found in: Neuvoo UK
Franchising and Privacy and Cybersecurity BulletinMarch 24, 2021
For several months now, issues relating to the protection of personal information are an ever-rising concern in all industrialized countries, especially due to serious questions raised by the practices of major social media platforms and scandals following the loss or theft of vast quantities of personal information.
In this context, many European and North American governments have adopted new laws that are more far-reaching and much stricter than before in order to better protect personal information.
In Quebec, this led to the filing, on June 12 of last year, of Bill 64 entitled An Act to modernize legislative provisions as regards the protection of personal information (Bill 64).
Bill 64 amends the personal data protection obligations incumbent on public bodies and businesses in the private sector. It imposes new and much stricter obligations, in particular on Quebec businesses, such as franchisors and franchisees, while also significantly increasing the powers of the Commission d'accès à l'information (CAI).
These new provisions will therefore have a significant impact on all franchise networks operating in Quebec.
All franchisors have personal information on their franchisees, on the directors, officers, partners, shareholders and employees of their franchisees, on their own employees and, often, on the customers of their franchise networks.
Moreover, all franchisees also have personal information on their employees and, often, on their customers.
Lastly, personal information is often disclosed and exchanged in various ways (frequently by electronic means) between each franchisee and its franchisor as well as between franchisees. It is therefore important to recall that, from a legal perspective, each franchisee is a business that is separate from the franchisor or any other franchisee.
As such, the franchisor and each of its franchisees are each required to comply with the provisions of the Act respecting the protection of personal information in the private sector, including, upon their coming into force, the provisions of Bill 64.
In addition to the increased penalties for violations, which upon the coming into force of Bill 64 could be as high as $25,000,000 , here is a summary of some of the important changes proposed under Bill 64 that will impact both franchisors and franchisees:
Bill 64 also includes many other provisions affecting all public bodies, private businesses and political parties.
Although were still be several months away from the coming into force of Bill 64, it would be wise to start preparing now.
For a franchisor this means, among others:
This is especially important since, in addition to exposing both you and your franchisees to the very strict penalties proposed under Bill 64, any violation of the laws and regulations governing the protection of personal information can also expose your network to damaging news coverage and have serious consequences for your customers.
A franchise networks brand is often its most valuable asset and these changes create a real risk that the brand could be harmed in the event of a failure to comply with the new legal framework. Where the franchisor provides the digital platforms used to process personal information or if it processes the data itself, it would be especially important to adopt a proactive approach since its intervention may be at the root of such issues. It would be in the franchisors interest to contact its IT providers now to determine if their service is compliant and, if not, to obtain clear undertakings to ensure timely compliance.
To stay informed about Bill 64 and the significant changes to Quebec personal information protection laws, the Privacy Protection practice group at Fasken has created and regularly updates an online . The Firms Privacy group also publishes periodic updates on developments regarding Bill 64 as well as its in-depth analysis of the different proposals.
We therefore invite you to regularly visit and read the posts in order to keep up to date on all the issues regarding the protection of personal information.Fasken is always available to help you with all the steps required to ensure that both you and your franchisees are compliant with all laws and regulations governing the protection of personal information.
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