Effective May 1, 2010, Alberta amended its Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) to require breach reporting and notification requirements. U.S. businesses with a presence in Alberta should take note of the new law as it is a bit different than most of the state data breach notification laws in the United States. 

PIPA governs the collection, use and disclosure of personal information by businesses. Under the amendment to PIPA that adds the mandatory breach notification requirement, organizations that experience a breach will be required to report the incident to the Privacy Commissioner where there exists “a real risk of significant harm” to an individual. The Commissioner can, in turn, require the organization to notify the affected individuals.

Alberta’s Privacy Commissioner Frank Work commented on the new law:

Now an organization has to report significant losses to my Office. I can then require notification of affected individuals. Our experience has been that most businesses already notify people affected by losses and we encourage this. This is not necessarily a matter of making businesses liable for losses of information; it is about warning people so that they can take precautions. Hopefully it will make businesses more aware of the need for reasonable security measures.”

Of course, the challenge for multi-national companies will be to consider and coordinate the laws in various jurisdictions.