Privacy Commissioner highlights importance of protecting children’s privacy in appearance before Parliament
Ottawa, ON, October 25, 2023 – Privacy Commissioner of Canada Philippe Dufresne emphasized the importance of ensuring that children can navigate the online world without risk to their fundamental right to privacy during an appearance before Parliament today.
“Children have a right to be children, even in the digital world,” Commissioner Dufresne told members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.
“It is critical that government and organizations take action to ensure that young people can benefit from technology and be active online without the risk of being targeted, manipulated, or harmed as a result.”
The Commissioner was invited to provide input on the Committee’s study of the Use of Social Media Platforms for Data Harvesting and Unethical or Illicit Sharing of Personal Information with Foreign Entities. He also discussed his 2022-23 Annual Report to Parliament.
The Commissioner continues to recommend that a modernized federal privacy law recognize that the processing of personal data should respect children’s privacy and the best interests of the child. This would encourage organizations to build privacy for children into their products and services by design and by default.
Earlier this month, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC), along with its provincial and territorial counterparts, passed a resolution calling on public and private sector organizations to increase protections for young people online, including by:
- providing privacy tools and consent mechanisms that are appropriate for young people and their maturity level;
- rejecting the kind of deceptive practices that influence or coerce young people into making privacy-related decisions that are contrary to their interests; and
- allowing for the deletion and de-indexing of information that was collected when users were children.
The OPC, along with its counterparts in Québec, British Columbia and Alberta, launched an investigation into TikTok in February. The investigation is examining whether TikTok’s practices comply with Canadian privacy legislation and in particular, whether it obtains valid and meaningful consent for the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information.
The investigation is a high priority for the OPC, especially given the importance of protecting the fundamental right to privacy of young people, who represent a notable proportion of TikTok users.
In his remarks regarding the annual report, the Commissioner outlined how the OPC’s investigations and work with domestic and international counterparts support his Office’s three strategic priorities: 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 Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics on its study of the Use of Social Media Platforms for Data Harvesting and Unethical or Illicit Sharing of Personal Information with Foreign Entities (October 25, 2023)
Statement: Appearance before the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics on the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s 2022-23 Annual Report to Parliament (October 25, 2023)
For more information
Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
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