ARCHIVED - Privacy Preoccupations
Louisa Garib, Legal Counsel
How do you contribute to the promotion and protection of privacy in Canada?
I’m a lawyer in the Legal Services, Policy and Parliamentary Affairs Branch of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. One of the things that I enjoy most about my job is the extraordinary variety of interesting legal and policy work I get to do. There’s never a dull moment. On any given day, I can be asked to prepare submissions for Court; draft comments to a regulatory body; or provide advice to the Commissioner, Assistant Commissioner, investigators or auditors on the interpretation of the Privacy Act or the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. I could also be called upon to mentor a student intern, offer legal advice for a media request, or even speak to a group of senior citizens concerned about identity theft.
The subject matter is just as varied. I get to work on a range of privacy issues related to labour and employment, charities and not-for-profits, social networking and the Internet, national security, as well as criminal law matters. I never really know what will hit my desk. Technological innovations and new business models are continually emerging, and I really enjoy the challenges that they bring to our work. We often find ourselves dealing with privacy conundrums never contemplated before, often without established precedents or specific guidance from the legislation. It’s exciting to see privacy law evolving day-by-day, and I feel privileged to play a role in its development in Canada.
What privacy issue keeps you up at night?
I worry that people underestimate the social value of privacy. Privacy rights are not just a legal issue between data protectors and big business or government. Privacy is also about what we value as a society. We have to consider whether privacy will continue to be a meaningful ideal that underpins our fundamental rights and freedoms, or become a practical trade-off to meet other goals and objectives. It’s easy to take privacy for granted when we have so many compelling new technologies that can track, analyze and surveil individuals – particularly when faced with pressure from the state and corporations to use them.
Nevertheless, I do sleep better knowing that there are many dedicated individuals and groups thinking about these issues and advocating for privacy in Canada, and I am proud to play a small part in that effort as Counsel for the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.