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What we did
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) is required to carry out a mandate specified under the
Office’s two enabling laws. The
sets the ground rules for use of personal information by federal
government departments. The
Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act
to organizations engaged in commercial activities as well as to federal works undertakings or businesses. Our
mandate includes investigating complaints from the public and responding to requests for information from
Parliamentarians, and we will continue to carry out those activities.
That said, strategic privacy priorities will help us make choices that are discretionary in nature. For example,
priority areas will help inform whether the Commissioner should initiate an investigation or audit where there
are reasonable grounds to do so; which court actions we should intervene in; which speaking engagements we
accept; what guidelines or research papers we should develop; what education or outreach efforts we
undertake; and which research projects we should selectively fund under our Contributions Program.
In 2007, the OPC selected four strategic priorities to focus resources on the privacy challenges we identified as
most pressing at that time. These were: information technology, public safety, identity integrity and genetic
information. As we explained in our 2013 capstone report ,
this approach assisted the OPC in developing
capacity, advancing knowledge, and effecting change.
Our main objective in setting new strategic priorities is to enhance Canadians’ control over their personal
information. Being in control of one’s information is particularly challenging in a world of big data where an
unprecedented amount of personal information is being collected and where powerful algorithms can detect
patterns for a variety of purposes ranging from marketing to national security.
We wanted to ensure that the path to reaching this objective aligns with what is truly most relevant and of
concern to Canadians. In order to find out what Canadians think about privacy and how privacy experts view
the role of the OPC in the next five years, we set out to hear from a wide range of individuals and
organizations about what privacy issues were important to them. We reached out to the general public across
the country though public opinion polling as well as focus groups held from coast to coast. We also invited
stakeholders, including representatives from the public and private sectors, academia, civil society, and
consumer groups to attend facilitated discussions in five Canadian cities. 1
Halifax, Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton and Montreal