Privacy is a Global Issue


The world is getting smaller. This oft-used statement is made in relation to the impact of technology on our lives from a global perspective. It is supposed to signify the advances that have been made that allow us to have ‘real-time’ communications with each other at any time, and from almost anywhere in the world. If you’re in Canada, and have the right access codes, you can send a text message to someone in India and expect to have an almost immediate response. You can order your living room furniture directly from a Swedish manufacturer without leaving your house and enjoying the in-store meatballs. All of this can be done on a computer with a few clicks.

It goes without saying that the world is as big as it ever was. What has changed is our ability to access and share information on a global stage. It is from this perspective that we begin to see how our access to information is being shaped and directed by differing views on data protection and privacy.

In May of 2018, the European Union implemented the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This legislation imposes accountability and responsibility on organizations that do business around the world, with particular focus on the protection of private information based on electronic and personal data.

This legislation has significant implications on Canadian businesses as it requires proactive measures to be put into place when there is a potential privacy data breach.

Click here to read about mandatory data breach reporting for Canadian companies.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has provided a guide that outlines eight critical elements that the human resources function must have in place to be in compliance with the legislation.

Click here to read the SHRM article.

As noted in both articles, the GDPR impacts strategic international human resources management directly. If the Human Resources function was not actively engaged in data protection prior to the implementation of the GDPR, the legislation changes that business-level approach as well. It is the role of the Human Resources function to ensure that employee data protection rights, organizational data accountability structures, and data breach reporting requirements are all prioritized.

Once again, we see the ever-increasing need for a pro-active and visible Human Resources presence that must find its place on the shrinking global stage.


Discussion Questions:

  1. From an HR perspective, what constitutes a data breach?
  2. How will the European privacy legislation impact global businesses and the Human Resources function?
  3. What should Canadian multi-national companies put into place to ensure the privacy and protection of employee data?
  4. What are possible remedies for privacy or data breaches that happen outside of Canadian business jurisdictions?