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Artificial intelligence and privacy: The consumer perspective

Organization

Option consommateurs

Published

2021

Project Leader(s)

Myriam Chagnon

Summary

Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming an increasingly important part of the lives of Canadian consumers. AI can help personalize user experience, predict consumer behaviour, provide access to information, interact with customers or make automated decisions about accessing a service.

This project examines how online companies collect an extraordinary amount of consumer data but provide only fragmented information about how their AI systems process this data. A few companies claim to have adopted principles to guide their use of AI, but this guidance is still based on self-regulation. Moreover, the control they offer consumers over their personal information remains limited.

AI has benefits for consumers, but as this research shows, it also poses a risk to privacy, and a risk of exclusion of vulnerable groups, economic exploitation of consumers or simply false positives. Moreover, AI exacerbates the asymmetry of information between consumers and merchants owing to the obscurity of its data processing.

The use of AI in a commercial context brings to light the obsolescence of Canada’s privacy laws. In its research report, Option consommateurs suggests some solutions, such as enhancing consumers’ individual rights to get an explanation of a data processing result. Another solution consists of enhancing the right of consumers to request reviews, expressly prohibiting uses of personal information that result in the unlawful discrimination against or the economic exploitation of consumers, and strengthening the powers of law enforcement authorities.

Project deliverables are available in the following language(s)

French

OPC Funded Project

This project received funding support through the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s Contributions Program. The opinions expressed in the summary and report(s) are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Summaries have been provided by the project authors. Please note that the projects appear in their language of origin.

Contact Information

Myriam Chagnon, Assistant Director General
50 Sainte Catherine Street, West, Suite 440
Montreal, QC H2X 3V4
Email: mchagnon@option-consommateurs.org
Telephone: (514) 598-7288, ext. 4325

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