Exporting Trust: Does E-Commerce Need a Canadian Privacy Seal of Approval


  • John MacDonnell




It has been suggested that Canada should develop a consumer protection seal, or trustmark, for placement on web sites as an assurance that privacy is not at risk in the on-line environment. This article explores whether a Canadian trustmark would be redundant in light of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. Consumers are sceptical about surrendering personal information online when it can so easily be collected, used, and disclosed for purposes beyond their control. Data protection laws have been around since the early 1970s, but the Internet's mass acceptance has added new urgency to their development and spread. The author contrasts the protection offered by the Act with the policies of three high-profile trustmark programs to better understand where the legislative and self-regulatory approaches merge and diverge. He makes a proposal for a Canadian trustmark that uses the federal law as a starting point, but, at the same time, embraces more consumer-oriented and Internet-aware policies. Bringing this program to the international stage would be apriority because there is little point in restricting such an effort to one country.