Data protection was a hot topic during a recent digital and data roundtable, led by the CPA Canada’s research, guidance and support (RGS) and government relations departments, which brought together CPAs and senior executives from different sectors. (Image provided)

Canada | Technology

Data protection: an inevitable reality for accountants to face

CPA Canada roundtable discussion agrees there is a need for an overarching framework for how we store, manage and use data

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At the top of Canadian business agendas is keeping up with technology, while ensuring their customer’s data is protected. And CPAs play an important role in helping them do so. That was a key message delivered at a recent digital and data roundtable event in September organized by CPA Canada in response to the National Digital and Data Consultations, launched by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED). 

With Statistics Canada reporting in October that one in five Canadian companies were hit by a cyberattack in 2017 and only 10 per cent of them reporting it to law enforcement agencies, data protection has never been as pertinent a focus as it is today.

How Canadian businesses will move forward on this issue was a hot topic during the roundtable, led by the CPA Canada’s research, guidance and support (RGS) and government relations departments, which brought together CPAs and senior executives from different sectors. Members of ISED were on hand as observers, focusing on three themes: unleashing business innovation; preparing Canadians for the future of work; and ensuring they have trust and confidence in how their data is used. 

Michael Wong, CPA, CA, technology principal of RGS at CPA Canada—who specializes in technology innovation and thought leadership—pointed out the critical role CPAs play in safeguarding personal, business and financial information with their extensive expertise in risk management, data governance and compliance. CPAs are also pivotal in helping to identify and assess new business opportunities; anticipating competitive threats; and improving productivity, performance and competitiveness, he added. 

“Digital innovation will improve productivity, enhance customer experiences, and enable Canadian businesses to be more agile in the face of increasing competition,” said Wong. “It is essential to the growth of our economy.”

The two-hour discussion was timely as provisions to a three-year-old federal Digital Privacy Act—mandating companies to let Canadian consumers know when their personal information has been compromised—come into effect on November 1. Participants agreed that an overarching framework is needed for how we store, manage and use data. [See Canadians concerned about identity theft and protection of personal information: CPA Canada Fraud Survey for more.]

The roundtable is just one way that CPA Canada is establishing itself as a thought leader in the area of data protection for the future, and a good example of how it works with government to further the public interest. 

“Governments need to hear many different perspectives on an issue in order to find the solution that best meets the interest of most Canadians,” said Sarah Anson-Cartwright, director of public affairs at CPA Canada. “Rather than advocating a particular point of view, we brought together CPAs drawn from different business sectors and with different types of expertise to have a comprehensive discussion of the issue that reflected a broad-based business perspective.”

FOR MORE

Read the in-depth report, Digital and Data Transformation Roundtable: Positioning Canada to Lead in a Digital and Data-driven Economy, for further insight on how to prepare for technological disruption and data protection.