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News Release

Privacy Commissioner announces funding for 10 new independent privacy research projects

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada marks 10 years of advancing privacy knowledge through its Contributions Program

Ottawa, April 30, 2013 — The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) today announced the recipients of its 2013-14 Contributions Program, which supports independent research and knowledge translation initiatives on emerging and evolving privacy issues of interest to Canadians.

This year, the Program is providing close to $450,000 in support of 10 independent projects, which touch on a variety of privacy issues in the OPC’s four priority policy areas: identity integrity and protection; information technology; genetic information; and public safety.

“Over the last decade, the Contributions Program has been building research capacity, encouraging critical thinking and creating new knowledge in an era of rapid technological, social and economic change,” said Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart. “These new projects will continue to build our collective understanding of current challenges and develop practical applications that enhance privacy protection for Canadians.” 

The 2013-14 projects will consider the privacy implications of a broad range of services, technologies and issues, such as:

  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in Canada;
  • Police background checks;
  • Financial aggregation applications and platforms;
  • Services offered by credit reporting agencies;
  • Consumer health web sites; and
  • Direct to consumer genetic testing.

There are also two projects that specifically focus on youth privacy issues. One is a continuation of a wide-ranging study of youth Internet use in Canada and another will create and distribute a teaching toolkit designed to help young Canadians learn how to protect their personal information online.

The OPC announced the new projects as part of its Privacy Awareness Week activities. Privacy Awareness Week (April 28-May 4) is marked annually by members of the Asia Pacific Privacy Authority to promote greater privacy awareness and the importance of protecting personal information.

The OPC received 51 proposals for the 2013-14 funding cycle of the Contributions Program. Each proposal was evaluated by representatives of the OPC, as well as an external peer review panel of privacy experts in various fields.

“In an age where we are constantly bombarded by information, research helps us understand the benefits and pitfalls of innovations. Research is, thus, an essential aspect of improving privacy protection,” says Pierre Trudel, who was a member of the external peer review panel and is also the Director of the Centre d'études sur les médias du Centre de recherche en droit public, Université de Montréal. “The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s Program contributes to the development of an environment that is both innovative and respectful of individuals.”

A full list of the 2013-14 Contributions Program recipients and their projects is available on our web site.

The OPC’s Contributions Program was created in 2004 to support arm’s length, non-profit research on privacy, further privacy policy development, and promote the protection of personal information in Canada. To date, the Program has allocated approximately $3.5 million to nearly 100 initiatives in Canada and is considered one of the world’s foremost privacy research funding programs.

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada is mandated by Parliament to act as an ombudsman and guardian of privacy in Canada. The Commissioner enforces two federal laws for the protection of personal information: the Privacy Act, which applies to the federal public sector; and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), which applies to commercial activities in the Atlantic provinces, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the Territories. Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia each has its own law covering the private sector. Even in these provinces, PIPEDA continues to apply to the federally regulated private sector and to personal information in interprovincial and international transactions.

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For more information, please contact:

Heather Ormerod
Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

NOTE: Journalists are asked to please send requests for interviews or further information via e-mail.

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