Consultation on consent under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act

Learn more about the various initiatives undertaken by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner to consult Canadians on how to improve the current consent model under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).

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Why we are consulting on consent: Some background information

In May 2015, we identified four strategic privacy priorities to guide our proactive work for the next five years:

Under the Economics of personal information priority, we committed to enhancing the consent model under PIPEDA to address concerns raised by individuals and organizations.

What we have done

2016 dialogue on consent and privacy under PIPEDA

In May 2016, we launched a consultation on the issue of consent under PIPEDA. The goal of the consultation was to identify improvements to the current consent model and bring clearer definition to the roles and responsibilities of the various players who could implement them.

We published a discussion paper and asked organizations, individuals, academics, advocacy groups, IT specialists, educators and other interested parties for their comments:

What we heard

We received 51 written submissions in response to the paper, with roughly half coming from businesses or associations representing businesses. We also held five stakeholder roundtables across the country and solicited the views of individual Canadians through focus groups held in four Canadian cities.

Our results and recommendations

On September 21, 2017, we published the results of our 2016 consultation. The report outlined recommendations to address consent challenges posed by the digital age and indicates actions we will take.

In this consultation report, we urged provincial and territorial governments to integrate privacy education in school curricula in order to ensure that the next generation of Canadians is well informed of their privacy rights. In addition, in November 2017, we published a letter to the Council of Ministers of Education, along with our provincial and territorial counterparts, to address the critical importance of privacy education.

In the report on the results of our 2016 consultation, we committed to updating key guidance on online consent and to develop new guidance that would specify areas where collection, use and disclosure of personal information is prohibited, such as situations that are known or likely to cause significant harm to individual.

In September 2017, we solicited feedback on two draft guidance documents:

  • Draft guidelines: Obtaining meaningful online consent
  • Draft guidance: Inappropriate data practices—Interpretation and application of subsection 5(3)

Individuals, organizations, other privacy enforcement authorities, academics, advocacy groups, information technologists, educators, students and other interested parties had until December 4, 2017 to contribute their views on the recommendations in these draft guidance documents.

What we heard

A total of 13 submissions were received:

  • two from individuals
  • one from a private-sector organization
  • and ten from associations representing private-sector organizations

In the call for comments, we indicated that submissions would not be posted on this website. However, we have compiled a commentary document to describe the themes and comments received, along with explanations why certain changes were, or were not, made to the final versions: 

Our results and recommendations

On May 24, 2018, we published two important new guidance documents to help organizations ensure they comply with their privacy obligations in the digital age:

Next steps

Although we published the new guidance documents on May 24, 2018, please note that we will only begin applying the new Guidelines on obtaining meaningful consent on January 1, 2019 and the new Guidance on inappropriate data practice on July 1, 2018.

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