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May 16, 2017

Privacy Commissioner announces funding for independent research projects on privacy issues

A new series of independent research and knowledge translation projects being supported through the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s 2017-18 Contributions Program will examine a variety of privacy issues, such as risks related to smart toys for children, as well as the development of privacy codes of practice to enhance accountability among private sector organizations.

This year, the Office specifically encouraged applicants to put forward projects focused on developing codes of practice on private sector compliance issues of importance to Canadians.

“Our Office is looking for ways to promote proactive compliance,” says Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien. “These projects will allow us to explore potential of codes of practice to enhance organizations’ accountability and make it easier for individuals to understand how their personal information is being handled.”

The projects receiving support as part of this year’s Contributions Program will also continue to advance the Office’s privacy priorities, which emphasize responding to Canadians concerns about privacy. The priorities, which help to guide the Office’s work, are: the economics of personal information; government surveillance; reputation and privacy; and the body as information.

The Contributions Program funds independent privacy research and related knowledge translation initiatives. Researchers are encouraged to propose innovative projects that generate new ideas, approaches, and knowledge about privacy that organizations can apply to better protect personal information and individual Canadians can use to make more informed decisions about protecting their privacy.

Examples of this year’s projects include:

A Privacy Report Card for Children's Smart Toys – This initiative will examine the security and privacy risks associated with smart conversational toys currently sold in Canada. Researchers will conduct an analysis to produce a Smart Toys Privacy Report Card, which will lead to recommendations for improving the security and privacy of these toys.

A Privacy Code of Practice for the Connected Car – This project aims to develop a privacy code of practice for “connected cars”, which can collect or share data related to a driver’s habits as well as navigation, traffic or entertainment information. A code of practice could provide predictability and consistency for individuals and organizations around issues such as meaningful consent and appropriate limits on data processing.

An Analysis of the Evolution of Canada’s Data Broker Industry – This study is a follow-up from a research project previously funded by the Office, examining the state of the industry’s practices. In particular, this new study will identify issues in the interpretation and application PIPEDA, as well as develop tools to improve public awareness of the data brokerage industry and how Canadians’ personal information is being collected, shared, and used.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) received 39 proposals for the 2017-18 funding cycle of the Contributions Program. Those proposals were evaluated by the OPC, as well as an external peer review panel. Following the evaluation process, 10 successful projects were selected to receive funding support in the coming year.

For a full list of successful projects, see: 2017-18 Contributions Program recipients and their proposed projects.

The 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. Since then, the Program has allocated approximately $5.5 million to some 120 initiatives.

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