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April 16, 2018

OPC’s more proactive approach to privacy protection unveiled in Departmental Plan tabled in Parliament today

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) is shifting gears to be more proactive and to focus efforts where it can impact the greatest number of Canadians. This new approach is explained in the office’s 2018-19 Departmental Plan, tabled today in Parliament.

In it, the OPC also unveils its new vision for what the OPC does, what results it is trying to achieve for Canadians, as well as how it will assess progress and measure success. This vision is embodied in the OPC’s Departmental Results Framework (DRF).

To support this new vision, the OPC has adopted a new organizational structure. Work will now fall into two program areas — Compliance and Promotion. Both areas are part of the OPC’s mandate and are important in protecting privacy. Activities related to addressing existing compliance issues will fall under the Compliance Program, while activities aimed at bringing departments and organizations towards compliance with the law will fall under the Promotion Program.

The first strategy, under the Promotion Program, will be to inform Canadians of their rights and how to exercise them, and to guide departments and organizations on how to comply with their privacy obligations. The OPC will endeavour to increasingly share information and advice with businesses and departments when they are designing their services so that Canadians may enjoy the benefits of innovation without undue risk to their privacy.

Under the Compliance Program, the OPC will focus on enforcement actions to ensure violations of the law are identified and remedies are recommended.  This will continue to include investigations into complaints from Canadians, however, the OPC will also proactively initiate investigations to address chronic or sector-specific privacy issues that aren’t being addressed through the complaint system.

“The scale and pace of technological advances and their use in business and government organizations are significantly straining the ability of individuals to protect their privacy,” says Privacy Commissioner  Daniel Therrien.

“By delineating our activities more clearly under two programs, by being more proactive and by ensuring we are citizen-focused, I hope Canadians may begin to feel more empowered and in control of what happens to their personal information.”

The Departmental Plan provides additional details about the OPC’s shift toward more proactive measures to empower individuals and bring organizations toward compliance. The plan also discusses the OPC’s intent to support government and parliamentary initiatives to reform Canada’s archaic federal privacy laws.

“Canadians deserve privacy laws adapted to the realities of the 21st century,” Commissioner Therrien says.

Here is more information about the OPC’s Departmental Plan for 2018-19.

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