A Complete Guide to Quebec Law 25

Quebec’s Law 25, formerly known as Bill 64, marks a significant change in the province’s approach to data privacy. Enacted by the Quebec National Assembly in September 2021, the legislation aims to modernize privacy regulations and reinforce the protection of personal data held by private sector organizations and public sector bodies.

With Law 25 introducing new obligations and compliance requirements for businesses operating in Quebec or serving its residents, we’re going to take a look at its key features and its implications for those organizations.

Understanding Quebec Law 25

Quebec Law 25 is a comprehensive overhaul of the province’s privacy legislation, designed to align with emerging digital trends and global privacy standards. Introduced in response to growing concerns over data privacy and security, Law 25 seeks to enhance individuals’ control over their personal information while imposing greater accountability on organizations handling sensitive data.

With its multifaceted approach to data protection, Law 25 establishes a rigid framework for privacy governance, encompassing consent management, data subject rights, breach notifications, and much more.

Scope and applicability

The Law casts a wide net, covering both public and private entities operating within and outside Quebec’s borders. Its provisions apply to businesses of all sizes and sectors, including corporations, nonprofits, and government agencies—in short, anyone who collects, uses, or retains personal information of Quebec residents.

The expansive scope of Law 25 underlines the province’s focus on safeguarding individuals’ privacy rights and nurturing trust in the digital arena. Whether a company has a physical presence in Quebec or merely serves its residents, compliance with Law 25 is mandatory, with penalties and reputational damage awaiting any organization that fails to observe its regulations.

The key provisions of Law 25

Consent management

One of the main principles of Law 25 is explicit consent for the collection and processing of personal data. Similar to global privacy regulations like the GDPR, Law 25 requires businesses to obtain clear and informed consent from individuals before collecting their personal information. This includes obtaining consent for tracking technologies such as cookies and IP and email addresses, granting users far greater control over their data.

Appointment of Privacy Officers

To ensure compliance with Law 25, organizations are required to appoint a designated Privacy Officer responsible for overseeing all privacy-related matters. This individual plays a pivotal role in implementing privacy policies, conducting privacy impact assessments, managing data breach incidents, and liaising with regulatory authorities.

Privacy by Design

Law 25 advocates for Privacy by Design principles, urging organizations to embed privacy considerations into their products, services, and business processes from the outset. By prioritizing privacy and data protection at every stage of development, businesses can minimize the risk of privacy breaches and enhance user trust.

Strategies and Protocols for Data Breaches

In addition to regulating data collection and storage practices, the PDPL delineates specific protocols for handling data breaches. Organizations are required to promptly notify both the regulatory authorities and the individuals impacted, particularly in cases where there is potential for harm, underscoring the importance of transparency and accountability.

Data subject rights

The Law gives individuals a definitive set of data subject rights, allowing them to exercise greater control over their personal information. This includes the right to be informed, to access, rectify, and delete data, as well as the right to withdraw consent. Additionally, individuals have the right to data portability, allowing them to transfer their data to another organization in a readable format. In this way, Law 25 promotes transparency, accountability, and user involvement in data processing activities.

Breach notifications

In the event of a data breach, organizations subject to Law 25 are required to notify the Commission d’accès à l’information du Québec (CAI) promptly. This notification must include comprehensive details of the breach, its impact on affected individuals, and the remedial measures taken to mitigate the risk. By implementing rapid breach notifications, organizations demonstrate their commitment to transparency and accountability, which will hopefully resonate with stakeholders.

Privacy policies and international data transfers

Law 25 mandates clear and concise privacy policies that disclose the purposes of data collection, access rights, third-party disclosures, and international data transfers. Organizations must assess the impact of international data transfers on privacy rights and ensure comparable protection levels for transferred data. Additionally, businesses collecting personally identifiable information via cookies must provide clear instructions on opting out, enhancing transparency and user choice in the data processing cycle.

Compliance challenges and penalties

Achieving compliance with Law 25 poses significant challenges for organizations, requiring comprehensive measures and resources to meet its complex requirements. Non-compliance with the Law can result in severe penalties, including fines of up to $10 million CAD or 2% of global turnover for companies.

Individual fines range from $5,000 to $100,000 CAD, with penalties escalating for repeat offenses and severe violations. To avoid regulatory sanctions and reputational damage, organizations will need to prioritize compliance with Law 25 and invest in privacy management strategies that are fit for purpose.

Law 25 vs. PIPEDA

While Canada does have federal privacy legislation in the form of PIPEDA (The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act), Quebec’s Law 25 differs in scope and consent management guidelines. PIPEDA may apply nationwide, however, Law 25’s stricter consent requirements and emphasis on confidentiality fundamentally set it apart. Under Law 25, businesses must turn off tracking cookies by default and implement the highest level of confidentiality, aligning with global data privacy laws such as the GDPR.

CookieHub: Keeping your business Law 25 compliant with ease

Remaining compliant with Law 25’s intricate provisions will certainly be a challenge for many companies. That said, cookie compliance solutions like CookieHub make the process much easier.

By leveraging CookieHub’s advanced features for consent management, businesses can streamline their compliance efforts, enhance user transparency, and demonstrate a commitment to data protection. If Law 25 is aiming to instill trust in the digital arena, it has a powerful ally in CookieHub.

To find out more about CookieHub and how our easy-to-use Consent Management Platform can keep your website compliant, you can contact us here.