Quebec Data Privacy Law (Knowing Quebec Privacy Law Basics)

What is the main Quebec data privacy law?

The Quebec government has adopted data privacy laws intended to govern the protection of personal information in the private and public sectors.

These Quebec data privacy laws are:

Quebec Data Privacy Law objectives

The Quebec government’s objective is to remain in alignment with the international data protection efforts so as to remain consistent and up-to-par in this regard.

For the rest of this post, we will consider the Quebec Data Privacy law representing the main statute in Quebec relating to data protection and privacy.

The Quebec authorities have viewed data protection and privacy crucial to promote legitimate business activities and individual rights on their data privacy.

In fact, the Quebec government was the first jurisdiction in North America that adopted its data privacy law back in 1993.

Application of the Quebec Data Privacy Law

The Quebec Data Privacy Law applies to any organization dealing with personal information the course of carrying on an enterprise in Quebec.

In other words, the commercial activity of the business must remain in the Quebec territory for the Quebec Data Privacy Law to apply.

In the event personal data flows outside of the Quebec borders, then the Canadian federal privacy law will apply, namely PIPEDA.

Carrying out an enterprise in Quebec

When a company in the private sector collects, holds, uses or discloses personal information to other parties in the course of carrying out an enterprise in Quebec, then the Quebec Data Privacy Law will apply.

The Civil Code of Quebec defines an enterprise to be any organized economic activity, whether it is commercial in nature or not, consisting of producing, administering or alienating property.

Personal information

Personal information is any information that relates to a natural person and allows that person to be identified.

The definition of personal information is very broad and can include any information that will allow a physical person to be identified.

The type of medium in which personal information is conveyed does not pose any limitation on the definition of personal information.

If information is on a physical piece of paper or an electronic file, PowerPoint presentation or another medium, you need to protect it.

Non-application of the Quebec Data Privacy Law

The Quebec Data Privacy Law does not apply in the following circumstances:

  • There was collection, retention, use or disclosure of business information
  • When there is a cross-border flow of personal information either provincially or nationally 
  • To federal works, undertakings and businesses such as banks, radio and television stations, inter-provincial trucking, airports and airlines, navigation and shipping by water, telecommunication, railways, canals, pipelines, ferries that cross borders
  • Journalistic, historical or genealogical material collected, held, used or communicated for legitimate information of the public
  • Information held by a public body