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OPC’s Contributions Program funds research into impact of technology on privacy

August 28, 2023

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) has announced the privacy research and awareness projects that it will fund through its Contributions Program in 2023-24.

While proposals could address any privacy-related topic, this year the OPC expressed an interest in receiving proposals answering to the theme “The future is now! Assessing and managing the privacy impacts of immersive and embeddable technologies.” We were looking for proposals dealing with technologies that merge the physical and virtual worlds, and that are capable of reaching deep inside an individual and deducing – or interpreting – their very essence.

Academic and not-for-profit institutions are eligible to propose projects which fall within the scope of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).

The 44 proposals received for the 2023-2024 funding cycle were evaluated by the OPC which considered the quality of the proposal, its degree of innovation, feasibility and expected results. Eleven projects were chosen to receive a total of $499,996.88 in funding support.

Projects this year range from evaluating whether Canada’s privacy laws are up to the task of protecting peoples’ privacy in extended reality environments, to identifying and responding to dark patterns, which can be used to “nudge” users to reveal personal information. Another will examine and identify race, gender and privacy issues that are related to the development of Artificial Intelligence and Facial Recognition Technology.

For a full list of successful projects, see: Contributions Program projects underway.

Funding provided by the Contributions Program is meant to encourage privacy research and initiatives that generate new ideas, approaches, and knowledge to help organizations better safeguard personal information and to help Canadians make more informed decisions to protect their privacy.

Since its creation in 2004, the Contributions Program has allocated approximately $8.5 million to support arm’s length, non-profit research on privacy, further privacy policy development, and promote the protection of personal information in Canada.

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