Privacy Priorities - page 6

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our guidance for businesses and individuals,
and our readiness to foresee and respond to
emerging issues.
Vital Impact
Canadians today face threats to their privacy
that are varied and vast.
With respect to our four strategic priorities,
I am pleased to say that we have made
significant strides in raising public awareness
of these novel issues in both the public and
private sectors.
We have used the compliance and education
tools at our disposal to encourage government
institutions and private sector organizations
to develop policies and adopt practices that
are more respectful of privacy than they
would otherwise have been.
We have also expanded our own knowledge
and built internal capacity around these key
privacy issues through proactive research
efforts – believing that it is essential to take
time to fully understand changes that impact
on privacy and stay ahead of the curve, rather
than fall behind.
Making Connections
When we started this exercise, many of
us saw these four priority areas as quite
distinct. However, we now recognize many
connections that have revealed themselves
in recent years.
All four of these priority areas have been swept
up in the groundswell of Big Data. Whether
it be massive collection and aggregation
of travel and security-related information;
choice of friends, links, tweets, likes and
dislikes garnered through social media;
consumer online purchasing patterns and
web-searching behaviours; whole genome-
sequence analyses of entire populations – we
are seeing a significant paradigm shift in how
personal information is collected, used and
fundamentally understood.
Personal information has become the
common currency that drives this new
phenomenon.
In an article in
Foreign Affairs
, Kenneth
Cukier and Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger
summed up this new phenomenon as follows:
Big data is posed to reshape the way we live,
work and think. A worldview built on the
importance of causation is being challenged
by a preponderance of correlations. The
possession of knowledge, which once meant
an understanding of the past, is coming to
mean an ability to predict the future. The
challenges posed by big data will not be easy
to resolve. Rather, they are simply the next
step in the timeless debate over how to best
understand the world.
1
While I recognize the tremendous societal
benefits that could come from this quest
for new forms of knowledge, as Privacy
1
Kenneth Cukier and Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger, “The Rise
of Big Data : How It’s Changing the Way We Think About the
World,”
Foreign Affairs
, 92 (2013): 28-40.
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