Canada: “Privacy Law Reform: A Pathway to Respecting Rights and Restoring Trust in Government and the Digital Economy” (Office of the Privacy Commissioner Annual Report to Parliament)

From the Commissioners Message:

For several years, my predecessors and I have been calling for fundamental reform of Canada’s federal private and public sector privacy laws. In the last year, the government has finally agreed the time for reform had come. Members of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics (ETHI), from all parties, also agree. Even big tech companies proclaim that the age of self-regulation is over. The question is no longer whether privacy laws should be modernized, but how.

Privacy is a concept that is contextual and sometimes difficult to define precisely, but it is nevertheless a foundational value in Canadian society, a fundamental right and, as we have seen in the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, a prior condition to the exercise of other fundamental rights, including freedom, equality and democracy. The starting point, therefore, should be to give new privacy laws a rights-based foundation.

Data-driven technologies undoubtedly bring great benefits to individuals. They can be fun and convenient, but, on a more fundamental level, they can also be powerful tools for personal development. They also open the door to huge opportunities for improving health care, the environment and economic growth. On the other hand, these technologies create new risks. For good and bad, they are a disruptive force

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