On November 19, 2020, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada issued a statement regarding the tabling of Bill C-11 (the Bill), the Canadian government's proposed new private-sector privacy legislation (as previously reported by the E-TIPS® Newsletter here).

In its statement, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (the OPC) stated that the "ambitious" Bill, which expands upon and modernizes the current Canadian privacy regime and aligns closely with some of the more robust data protection regimes in the world, features several significant improvements, but also raises a number of questions about whether it will "effectively protect privacy in a constantly evolving digital society".

The OPC complimented the proposed statutes under Bill C-11 for setting out rights and obligations, rather than recommendations. The proposed statutes also enumerate the OPC's current guidelines for obtaining meaningful consent and give the OPC real order-making powers. However, in addressing the Bill’s shortcomings, the OPC highlighted that “Bill C-11 opens the door to new commercial uses of personal information without consent, but does not specify that such uses are conditional on privacy rights being respected” and that "the Bill essentially repeats the purpose clause of the current legislation, which gives equal weight to privacy and the commercial interests of organizations".

The following statement of the OPC makes it clear that the OPC believes that the privacy rights of individuals should outweigh the commercial interests of organizations:

Ultimately, it is up to Parliament to decide how much weight to give to privacy rights and the interests of commercial enterprises. In our view, it would be normal and fair for commercial activities to be permitted within a rights framework, rather than placing rights and commercial interests on the same footing. Generally, it is possible to concurrently achieve both commercial objectives and privacy protection. This is how we envision responsible innovation. However, where there is a conflict, we think that rights should prevail.

The OPC will be analyzing the proposed Bill to identify suggested amendments to be presented to the parliamentary committee studying the Bill.

Summary By: Hashim Ghazi


20 12 02

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