On November 6, 2019, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) announced a joint resolution of the federal, provincial and territorial Information and Privacy Commissioners (collectively, the Commissioners) calling on their governments to modernize access to information and privacy laws, which they say "have sadly fallen behind the laws of many other countries”.

In the resolution, the Commissioners stated that although legislative advances took place in some Canadian jurisdictions, significant reform is still required to better protect the rights of Canadians in a data driven society. The Commissioners note that privacy and access to information are quasi-constitutional rights that are fundamental to self-determination, democracy, and good government. They issued a number of calls for action.

First, the joint resolution is seeking that all public and private sector entities engaged in handling personal information be subject to privacy laws and be required, among other things, to:

  • implement privacy management frameworks;
  • practice data minimization and limited use;
  • establish appropriate security measures safeguarding personal information;
  • notify regulators and individuals affected by privacy breaches; and
  • allow individuals control their personal information, including real choice and meaningful consent.

Second, the joint resolution urges proactive disclosure of information that is in the public’s interest, with limited exceptions to the right of access. The Commissioners also called on governments to create legal frameworks to ensure responsible development and use of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies in accordance with the principles of transparency, accountability, and fairness.

Third, the joint resolution is calling on governments to strengthen the Commissioners’ enforcement powers to allow individuals to effectively assert their access and privacy rights against non-compliant entities.

Summary By: Anna Troshchynsky


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