Privacy, Trust and Innovation - submission to the Digital Economy Consultation

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We've just sent in our submission to the Digital Economy Consultation, available online here.

In our submission, we argue that privacy isn't an impediment to innovation. Rather, we believe privacy can support innovation by reinforcing confidence in users that they have the right to control their personal information and that the technology they use is secure. Too often privacy is left out of the design stage, and fixes after the fact can be expensive. We recommend that privacy become an integral part of the business models that rely on technology. We want to see a privacy culture that complements Canada's digital advantage and, in our submission, we put forward a number of recommendations on how the federal government can help build one.

First of all we recommend strengthening privacy protections within the federal government. We've written previously about the need to reform the Privacy Act, but we think the federal government can go even further in being a model user of technology - for example, we'd like to see the federal government make Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) analysis a requirement as part of preparing Memoranda to Cabinet for program approvals. We'd also welcome the federal government's use of state-of-the-art authentication and protection technologies. Other countries are already exploring this, including the United States, where they are looking at how open-source products and standards can be used to provide identity verification.

The consultation on the digital economy includes a discussion on the importance of digital skills. We increasingly view privacy literacy and online reputation management as part of a suite of digital citizenship skills necessary for success in the digital economy. To this end, we recommend making privacy literacy an integral component of digital citizenship and would like to see the federal government fund research to support digital citizenship programs.

We also recommend providing tools to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) - and in particular SMEs that are technology innovators - better understand privacy so that privacy is considered at the outset of the design stage, and built into the end product.

Finally, we'd like the federal government to fund "privacy positive" research and development - for instance, network and security technologies that incorporate privacy protections.

With only a handful of days left, we encourage you to read our submission, and the submissions and ideas of others and offer your comments.

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