Annual Report to Parliament 2013 - page 10

Annual Report to Parliament 2013 – Report on the
Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act
This year’s report also shares stories flowing
from investigations of complaints, addressing
systemic issues.
At the same time, it also underlines outreach
efforts, providing guidance to help businesses
steer clear of privacy pitfalls, while continuing
to educate Canadians about contemporary
privacy risks, and the steps they can take to
better protect themselves.
Technological Turbulence
As has become a general norm, many of
2013’s privacy challenges were rooted in new
and emerging technologies—technologies
including facial recognition software, wearable
computing, cloud computing, online
behavioural advertising, always-on smart
phones, geo-spatial technology, advanced
analytics, unmanned aerial vehicles (or drones)
and genetic profiling. The Office sought to
pinpoint the potential risks to privacy, which
can be magnified by the fact that, increasingly,
new technologies don’t generally operate in
isolation. Instead, device and data sources
merge and converge, spilling out new forms
of digital information that can be detailed,
persistent, and—at least in theory—infinitely
and perpetually accessible.
This highlights the need for cooperation
among regulators to ensure privacy protection
beyond discrete informational transactions to
address the global reach of organizations that
have the capacity to collect and use virtually
limitless amounts of personal information.
And it’s not just companies that are interested
in data about individuals for their commercial
purposes. More and more, it has been observed
that personal information originally collected
by the private sector can also flow into the
hands of public sector agencies dedicated to
law enforcement and national security. The
need for a constructive debate around greater
transparency and accountability on all sides
is evident. And a special report from the
Office tabled in Parliament in January 2014
made recommendations seeking to shape and
contribute to this discussion.
Evolving Investigative Process
While it is understandably beyond many
individuals to fully comprehend all the
complexities of these challenges, one axiom
holds true: Canadians value their privacy.
They have told this Office so through regular
public opinion polling along with hundreds of
complaints every year alleging infringement of
their privacy rights.
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