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October 20, 2023

Annual meeting of global authorities puts spotlight on privacy protection and advancing technologies

Privacy Commissioner of Canada Philippe Dufresne joined international data protection authorities this week at the 45th Global Privacy Assembly (GPA) to discuss key privacy issues and how regulators can work effectively – both individually and collectively – to protect privacy in an increasingly data-driven world.

The privacy impacts of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and generative AI were an important focus of the annual meeting of the global privacy regulators.

“Collaborating to address the privacy impacts of rapidly evolving technology is a key priority for my Office and our global partners,” says Commissioner Dufresne, who participated in a panel discussion on AI and emerging technologies at the meeting.

“There is tremendous opportunity in harnessing data, but also serious risks that must be identified and mitigated. It is critical that we work with partners to ensure that data is leveraged in a way that protects the fundamental right to privacy, while optimizing innovation.”

AI was also the subject of a number of resolutions that were passed by members during the meetings. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) co-sponsored a resolution on generative AI and the impact that its large-scale use of data is having on individuals’ fundamental right to privacy.

Along with committing to enforcing privacy legislation as it pertains to generative AI tools, GPA members called on those who develop, provide and deploy these systems to recognize data protection and privacy as a fundamental right. They called for the creation of responsible and trustworthy generative AI technologies and for training so that employees of the companies that create and use the technology understand the impact of AI systems on data protection, privacy and the rights of data subjects.

Another resolution co-sponsored by the OPC called on the GPA to work with organizations that develop or implement AI tools in the employment context, such as surveillance and data collection and retention tools, to ensure that employee privacy is considered at all stages.

The annual meeting of global data protection authorities is an opportunity for international regulators to discuss and prioritize issues of international interest, and to work together toward common goals.

“Data exchanges do not stop at borders, so it is vital that we collaborate with international partners on issues of importance to all of us,” says Commissioner Dufresne.

As part of the OPC’s work to enhance international collaboration, during the meeting the Commissioner signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Privacy Commission of the Republic of the Philippines to promote the sharing of information between the two authorities.

Other highlights:

  • The OPC co-sponsored a resolution to establish a working group that will provide an intersectional gender perspective to the GPA’s work, ensuring that the privacy experiences of all individuals stemming from their gender, sexual orientation, sexual characteristics, and gender identity are relevant.
  • The OPC, which chairs the GPA Working Group on Data Protection and Other Rights and Freedoms, sponsored a resolution to create an award to recognize the work done by organizations and networks in the privacy sphere outside the GPA. The inaugural Privacy and Human Rights award will be presented at RightsCon 2025.
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