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5

What we heard

“Canadians increasingly feel that their ability to protect their personal information

is diminishing. Seventy-three percent, the greatest proportion since tracking

began, think they have less protection of their personal information in their daily

lives than they did ten years ago.”

- 2014 Survey of Canadians on Privacy

Through ou

r 2014 Survey of Canadians on Privacy ,

we heard that Canadians’ concern with the use of their

personal information was relatively high. Roughly half of polled Canadians admitted to not having a good

understanding of what businesses and government do with their personal information. This concern was

echoed by focus group participants, who repeatedly stated that they have no idea what happens to their

personal information in the private and public sectors, and who can access it.

Both focus group and stakeholder meeting participants were asked to consider the responsibilities of

individuals, organizations, regulators and legislators in protecting privacy, as well as to describe the role they

feel the OPC should play to advance privacy.

Focus group participants generally felt that responsibility for privacy protection begins with them because for

the most part they can choose what information to share and with whom. They believe organizations have an

ethical and legal responsibility to protect the information they collect, while the government is responsible for

developing, monitoring and enforcing laws.

Stakeholders varied in their responses about where the responsibility lies for protecting privacy. Some

stakeholders indicated that individuals are responsible for learning about an organization’s privacy practices so

that they are in a position to make informed choices with regard to their personal information and to provide

meaningful consent. Others suggested that organizations play an important role in this process by being open

and transparent about their information handling practices.

The OPC has traditionally been successful in working with organizations that are willing to comply and we plan

to maximize the use of current legislation to help those organizations. This may include supporting

“regulation-lite” options such as industry codes of conduct or ethical standards. However, we will also need to

determine under what circumstances more powers are required, for example, when dealing with non-

compliant organizations, in order to prescribe minimum expectations and possibly “no-go” zones.

Several ideas emerged through discussions that were common to most or all of the proposed themes. These

can be summarized as follows:

Vulnerable groups are particularly at risk of potential harms stemming from each theme. The groups

described as “vulnerable” vary depending on the theme, but youth and seniors were mentioned

frequently.

Privacy enhancing technologies and privacy by design are necessary to reinforce privacy protections at

the front end.

The OPC has a significant role to play in education for individuals and Parliamentarians to raise their

awareness of privacy issues. Similarly, organizations, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs),

are in need of OPC outreach to reinforce understanding of their privacy obligations under PIPEDA.

Increased offers to engage in discussions with stakeholders for the purpose of enhancing the OPC’s

education, outreach, enforcement, and research activities.