As the European Union pushes ahead with sweeping new privacy rules specifically designed for the era of big data, Canada lags behind, relying on an outdated regime enacted before data-hungry companies such as Facebook Inc. even existed.

“We have a national private-sector data protection law that was designed for the early days of electronic commerce when people were just trying to figure out how to buy shoes online,” said Teresa Scassa, Canada Research Chair in Information Law and Policy at the University of Ottawa. “We are in a completely different data environment now and what we have is legislation that is...

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