Has your company embraced mobile working and cloud storage yet? If the answer is no, you’re not alone. Canada lags comparable countries including the USA when it comes to embracing these changes, mostly out of concerns about privacy.
“Canadians are more cautious about security and privacy around data and company information,” Michael Murphy, vice-president and country manager of Citrix Canada, said. The Citrix study Workplace of the Future showed that while Canada was generally in line with the rest of the world in workplace trends, security was Canadian employers’ biggest concern around embracing cloud storage in their workplace.
Some of those concerns were realistic, especially as many cloud servers were based in the USA, which has different privacy laws to Canada. There are no legal restrictions for using international cloud suppliers, except for public organizations in British Columbia.
“It’s very difficult for legislators to keep up with the technological advances,” said Harris and Company LLC partner Frances Doyle, who practices labour and employment law in BC, as well as privacy and access law.
“Even if it is permissible for an organization to store personal information outside Canada, the organization remains responsible for the security of that information,” Doyle said. “Any company in Canada that’s going to use cloud computing has to be very diligent about ensuring that their contract with the service provider imposes a comparable level of security as if the data remained in Canada.”
BC’s law was motivated by concerns over changing rules in the USA, where the Patriot Act expanded the powers of law enforcement and national security agencies to carry out investigations and to obtain intelligence in connection with anti-terrorism investigations.
The private sector isn’t affected by these rules, and no other province has this strict prohibition, but all companies are required to provide a certain level of security for personal information, regardless of where it is stored and managed.
Some provinces also require companies to inform individuals if their information is going to be stored with a company whose servers are outside Canada.
Canadian-based cloud computing company OrganizeYourPeople founder Jennifer Aubin said having information hosted in Canada is proving popular here and overseas. Local companies are happy to have their data close to home, while many international companies are relieved to find alternatives to programs hosted in the USA.
“A lot of people are worried about having their information hosted in the US, because they don’t fully understand the Patriot Act,” Aubin said. “I was talking to a company in Singapore last week and they were happy it was hosted in Canada. We’re getting calls from all over.”
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