Privacy Commissioner’s report urges modernizing of federal privacy laws

Report recognizes data-driven technologies as “a disruptive force"

Privacy Commissioner’s report urges modernizing of federal privacy laws

Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien is urging the adoption of rights-based privacy laws in his annual report, tabled in Parliament today.

The recommendations to modernize federal privacy laws are in order to better protect Canadians in the face of data-driven technologies that create serious risks for privacy, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada said in a news release.

This year’s report includes investigative findings into invasive data initiatives at Statistics Canada, examining its collection of personal information from private-sector organizations, as well as information on investigations and other tasks undertaken by the office.

In a press conference this morning, Commissioner Therrien said the StatsCan pilot raised “significant privacy concerns” in planning to harvest Canadians' personal financial transaction information, including their credit histories.

“Canadians want to enjoy the benefits of digital technologies, but they want to do it safely,” Commissioner Therrien said in today’s news release. “Legislation should recognize and protect their freedom to live and develop independently as persons, away from the watchful eye and unconscious influence of a surveillance state or commercial enterprises, while still participating voluntarily and safely in the day-to-day activities of a modern society.”

“A rights-based law would not be an impediment to innovation; to the contrary, good privacy laws are key to promoting trust in both government and commercial activities,” he said. “Without that trust, innovation, growth and social acceptance of government programs can be severely affected.”

“Other countries, not only in Europe but also in Asia, South America and Africa, have recently modernized their privacy laws and it is time that Canada move in the same direction.”

The report is available on the website of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada is mandated to oversee compliance with the Privacy Act, which applies to the information-handling activities of federal departments and agencies in the public sector, as well as the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), which covers federal privacy matters in the private sector.

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