Privacy Commissioner appears before Parliament to discuss proposals to modernize federal privacy law
Ottawa, ON, October 19, 2023 – Privacy Commissioner of Canada Philippe Dufresne discussed ways to improve and strengthen a Bill to modernize the federal private sector privacy law during an appearance before Parliament today.
Commissioner Dufresne was speaking before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry and Technology (INDU) with respect to Bill C-27, the Digital Charter Implementation Act, which would enact the Consumer Privacy Protection Act (CPPA), the Personal Information and Data Protection Tribunal Act, and the Artificial Intelligence and Data Act (AIDA).
“I welcome the opportunity to assist the Committee with its study to help ensure that this legislation will protect and promote Canadians’ fundamental right to privacy, including in the context of artificial intelligence,” said Commissioner Dufresne.
Commissioner Dufresne also appeared before the Committee on September 28, 2023, and presented opening remarks. His appearance this week follows recent details that have been provided to the Committee by the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry about amendments that he plans to propose to the Bill.
Commissioner Dufresne said that he welcomed the Minister’s stated position on the amendments with respect to the proposed CPPA, which address four of the 15 key recommendations of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC) to strengthen the Bill. These include the Minister’s stated plans to explicitly recognize privacy as a fundamental right; strengthen the protection of children’s privacy; provide more flexibility for the OPC to use compliance agreements to correct privacy behaviours, including through the use of financial penalties; and allow greater cooperation between regulators.
In his remarks, the Commissioner also highlighted several other ways in which the Bill should be strengthened:
- Require Privacy Impact Assessments for high-risk activities, including AI, to ensure that privacy risks are being assessed and addressed proactively. This is critically important in the case of AI systems that could be making decisions that have major impacts on Canadians.
- Allow fines for violations of the appropriate purposes provisions under the legislation, which require that organizations only collect, use and disclose personal information in a manner and for purposes that a reasonable person would consider appropriate in the circumstances.
- Avoid a lengthy and expensive review process by having decisions of the proposed Personal Information and Data Protection Tribunal reviewed directly by the Federal Court of Appeal; or provide the OPC with the authority to issue fines and have the OPC’s decisions reviewable by the Federal Court instead of the tribunal.
- Amend the Bill’s current drafting, which allows the government to make exceptions to the law by way of regulations without the need to demonstrate that those exceptions are necessary – this provides too much uncertainty for industry and for Canadians.
- Ensure appropriate transparency in the way in which organizations are required to explain the predictions, recommendations or decisions that are being made about individuals using automated decision systems, like AI.
These recommendations support the Commissioner’s three strategic priorities for the OPC: addressing privacy impacts of the fast-moving pace of technological advancement, especially in the world of AI and generative AI; protecting children’s privacy; and maximizing the OPC’s impact in fully and effectively promoting and protecting the fundamental right to privacy.
Statement: Appearance before the Standing Committee on Industry and Technology (INDU) on the Study of Bill C-27 (October 19, 2023)
News release: Privacy Commissioner discusses proposals to advance privacy law reform and better address children’s privacy, risks of AI (September 28, 2023)
Statement: Appearance before the Standing Committee on Industry and Technology (INDU) on the Study of Bill C-27 (September 28, 2023)
For more information
Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
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