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The right to privacy: Conceptual analysis and ethical reflections on its source, scope and redeployment in the era of data-driven technology


Université Laval



Project Leader(s)

Sylvain Auclair and Jocelyn Maclure


Data-driven technologies allow for the inference of sensitive attributes from a wealth of information that is continuously generated on the internet and is usually innocuous in isolation. The inferred information, often generated without the knowledge of the individual in question, can be used to influence or manipulate behaviour or opinions and to profile or discriminate.

In their report, Sylvain Auclair and Jocelyn Maclure explain why Canadian legislation, including Bill C-11, does not adequately protect individuals from the harm caused by this type of inference. The researchers demonstrate that it is neither sufficient to rely on individual control nor even to prevent identification to appropriately protect individuals. They argue that the production and use of inferred information, particularly sensitive information, must be controlled according to its impact on individuals.

The researchers provide an ethical analysis of the key values that substantiate the right to privacy as a human right and that should underpin the legislation. The analysis thus highlights the issues that will need to be addressed if we are to identify contexts of inference use, for which restrictions should be required for the ethical and beneficial use of data.

Project deliverables are available in the following language(s)


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

Jocelyn Maclure
Department of Philosophy, Université Laval
2325 Des Bibliothèques Street
Québec, QC G1V 0A6
Telephone: (418) 656-2131, ext. 6493

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