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The OPC was encouraged to continue its international cooperation and enforcement efforts. This was seen as
crucial to having a voice on the international privacy stage, to protecting Canadians personal information
abroad, and to being an effective overseer of multinational companies’ privacy practices.
Most agreed that this theme deserved considerable attention but felt it was a cross-cutting issue relevant to
all priorities rather than a priority in and of itself.
Reputation and privacy
“You don’t build your reputation. Your reputation builds you.”
“You cannot remove it, ever. So if something goes up negatively, it never goes
-Focus group participant
“Three-quarters or more of Internet users expressed some level of concern about the
different ways the information available about them online might be used by organizations.
At least four in ten, moreover, expressed a high level of concern (scores of 6-7 on a 7-
point scale). Concern about personal information being used by companies to determine
insurance or health coverage was highest, with exactly half expressing strong concern
about this. Following this, 49% are very concerned about the impact on their personal
reputation as more information is collected, assembled, and made into profiles about
-2014 Survey of Canadians on Privacy
Everyone we heard from was aware of the potential reputational harms resulting from sharing personal
information online. Youth and seniors were seen to be most at risk, youth because they are early adopters of
new technologies and seniors because of their relative inexperience with using online services. Many saw
reputation as a larger ethical and digital literacy issue, with privacy as one component.
Focus group participants spoke about their lack of control over their personal information online. They were
concerned with the permanence of online information; the lack of mechanisms for deleting or correcting
information; and confusing privacy settings. While they accepted their responsibility for managing their online
reputation, they felt that organizations should be doing more to help them in this regard by providing greater
transparency and user-friendly privacy features.
Stakeholders expressed a range of views on the question of responsibility for individuals’ reputations. We
heard from some that the OPC has mainly an educational role in this area, and that we should respect the
right of individuals to make their own choices once they were sufficiently informed of the potential
consequences of their actions. Others said that organizations bear some responsibility in helping individuals
protect their reputations. The lack of tools to counteract digital memory and allow deletion or correction of
information was cited as a problem. It was suggested that the OPC examine the “right to be forgotten” in the
Canadian context, and give thought to the level of responsibility that should rest with organizations for dealing
with objectionable information either posted to or surfaced by their platforms or services.