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What we decided

In choosing new privacy priorities for the OPC, we were guided by what we heard during our conversations

with stakeholders and the general public. There was general agreement that the six themes we had suggested

were all highly relevant, although two (“Protecting Canadians in a borderless world” and “Strengthening

accountability and privacy safeguards”) were seen as cross-cutting strategies rather than priorities as such. We

therefore made them horizontal strategies (see below), as well as three other approaches that emerged from

our consultations: exploring innovative and technological ways of protecting privacy; enhancing our public

education efforts; and enhancing privacy protection for vulnerable groups.

As a result, we have decided to concentrate our energies on four main priority areas:


Economics of personal information



Government surveillance



Reputation and privacy

; and,


The body as information


Plan of action

In addressing these priorities, we have decided on a results-oriented approach that maps out actions to focus

on the short (1.5 years), medium (1.5 to 3 years) and longer term (4 to 5 years). In the short and medium

terms, we will seek to better understand how privacy is implicated and to inform organizations, the public and

Parliamentarians on the issues at stake. We will also issue discussion papers in the short term, seeking to

engage Canadians on key privacy challenges before, in the medium term, we will identify potential solutions,

apply those within our jurisdiction and be prepared to recommend legislative changes as appropriate. In the

longer term, we will enforce these solutions by holding organizations accountable, we will evaluate

compliance and we will adjust our approach as necessary.

Our plan of action reflects our preference for how issues should develop. However, we are keenly aware that

at any time, there may be developments outside our control that require attention and resources, for instance

government initiatives impacting privacy or the next legislated review of PIPEDA. With that caveat, our plan is

outlined below.

Economics of personal information

As our personal information becomes increasingly monetized and serves as a new form

of currency that drives our new digital economy, the incentive to collect and use it for

new innovative purposes can barely be contained. Every day there are new, creative

ideas on how businesses can derive more profit from our personal information and

whole new business models are redefining our concept of commercial activity.

Individuals, left completely to their own devices, can hardly be expected to demystify

complex business relationships and complicated algorithms to make informed choices

about which companies they wish to do business with based on a clear calculus of risks

and benefits. Time and again, we have heard individuals bemoan the fact that if they

want to participate meaningfully as digital consumers and access new goods and

services that have replaced older ones no longer available, they have no real choice

other than to “close their eyes”, “block their nose” and click “I accept”.