The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada is committed to building stronger connections with Canadians, wherever they happen to live and work, and we have been working hard to build stronger ties with our provincial colleagues and other stakeholders across the country.
We are very pleased to announce that the OPC will be opening an office in the Toronto region. As announced at the recent International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) Canadian Symposium, Robin Gould-Soil, CIPP/C will lead this office as our new Director for PIPEDA. more
OPC Investigating Google WiFi
On June 1, 2010 the Privacy Commissioner of Canada launched an investigation into online giant Google Inc.’s inadvertent collection of data from unsecured wireless networks as its cars were photographing streetscapes for its Street View map service.
“We have a number of questions about how this collection could have happened and about the impact on people’s privacy. We’ve determined that an investigation is the best way to find the answers,” says Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart. more
OPC Audit of Mortgage Brokers: Risks Remain
On Tuesday, June 8, 2010, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada tabled its 2009 Annual Report to Parliament on the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). The annual report highlights the findings of an audit of several mortgage brokerages which experienced serious data breaches that compromised the personal information of hundreds of people across Canada. The report also explores the issue of transborder data flows and looks at 2009 privacy complaint investigations. more
Assistant Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham Appointed B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada congratulates Assistant Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham who was recently appointed to be the new B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner. Ms. Denham has been an outstanding Assistant Commissioner for the OPC and has demonstrated strong leadership on private-sector issues, expertly guiding our work in the new realm of enforcing PIPEDA in the online context. more
Facing the Challenges of Privacy Protection in the Public Sector
In May, Assistant Privacy Commissioner Chantal Bernier attended and spoke at Canadian Association of Professional Access and Privacy Administrators (CAPAPA) events held in Toronto and Vancouver. She provided an update on the OPC approach to privacy protection with respect to organizations subject to the Privacy Act, including issues, decisions and new developments. more
Lights, Camera, Action!
Earlier this year, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner developed a new video aimed at helping small businesses understand and comply with PIPEDA. It features real business owners in their place of work, asking questions and exploring the basic principles of private sector privacy law. The video also features some of our favourite privacy cartoons and fun graphics, all set to a dynamic soundtrack. If you are a small business owner looking for an engaging and interesting way to inform and educate yourself or your staff about PIPEDA, check out our video PIPEDA for Business: What You Need to Know About Protecting Your Customers’ Privacy.
Privacy In A Changing Society
There is a broad range of challenges when it comes to protecting privacy in today’s society, but clearly there are some emerging trends that will have a significant impact on privacy. To focus our efforts and resources, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada identified four key privacy issues that we believe will have an especially powerful impact on privacy in the years ahead: information technology; genetic technology; national security; and the integrity of personal identity. Now you can learn more about these issues, their associated privacy risks, and what the Office is doing to address these issues, by reading our new publication: Privacy In A Changing Society.
News of Note
Consulting with Canadians
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada recently wrapped up its series of public consultations focused on emerging technological trends that are likely to have a significant impact on the privacy of Canadians. Single-day panel discussions were held in Calgary, Toronto and Montreal, and explored online tracking, profiling and targeting of consumers by businesses and the growing trend towards cloud computing. The discussion panels presented a broad range of viewpoints by a variety of stakeholders–industry, government, consumer associations and civil society.
We were very pleased to see a strong response to these issues. The events were well attended and also followed by many interested individuals online via Webcast and Twitter, we also received more than 30 written submissions. The OPC would like to thank all those who developed a submission or participated in the consultations for their time and effort. Visit our 2010 Privacy Consumer Consultations web page to access the programs and archived webcasts of all three consultations events.
Stay tuned for our report on these consultations to find out what we learned and where we go from here.
Business Poll Results
On May 27, 2010, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada released the results of a new poll indicating most Canadian companies aren’t concerned about data breaches involving their customers’ personal information — even though these same companies report they are collecting and holding more personal information than ever before. The poll conducted by EKOS for the OPC found that 42 per cent of businesses surveyed are not concerned about security breaches. more
On May 25, 2010, the government introduced two bills to enhance the safety and security of the online marketplace. The bills are the Fighting Internet Wireless Spam Act (FISA) and amendments to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).
We are very encouraged to see the government moving ahead with legislation that will better equip our Office to deal with emerging privacy challenges. The amendments to PIPEDA include a mandatory data breach notification regime, which would require private-sector organizations to report any “material breach of security safeguards involving personal information under its control” to our Office. For more information about this new legislation, visit the Industry Canada web site.
On June 3, 2010 the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada announced the recipients of its 2010-11 Contributions Program, which funds privacy research and public education initiatives. Recipients of this year’s Contributions Program are advancing research in a number of areas of interest to Canadians and others around the world: targeted online advertising; data-sharing between governments and commercial organizations through national security programs at the border and at airports; video surveillance in public spaces by commercial organizations; and the privacy implications of patient websites, online health record databases and other “Health 2.0” tools. more
Federal administrative and quasi-judicial tribunals consider issues such as the denial of pension and employment insurance benefits, compliance with employment and other professional standards, allegations of regulatory violations, and challenges to federal public service hiring processes. These bodies, which are governed by the Privacy Act, commonly publish their decisions on the Internet, even though the decisions often contain personal details that not many people would be comfortable sharing widely.
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner has long shared the concerns of individuals who fear that participating in a tribunal proceeding could violate their privacy when the decision is ultimately posted online. So in consultation with our provincial and territorial counterparts, the OPC has developed a guidance document, aimed at maintaining the transparency of administrative justice, while also protecting the privacy of individuals.
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) is responsible for overseeing compliance with PIPEDA and the Privacy Act. These two laws protect our privacy rights and describe the obligations of organizations that seek to collect, use or disclose our personal information.
For real-life examples of how PIPEDA comes into play, visit our case summaries:
- PIPEDA Case summary #2010-002: Complainant Objects to Insurance Company Database
- PIPEDA Case summary #2009-020: Publicly available information about individual’s bankruptcy cannot be disclosed for debt-collection purposes without her consent
- PIPEDA Case summary #2009-019: Collection and use of employee’s email deemed acceptable for purposes of investigating breach of agreement
- PIPEDA Case summary #2009-018: Psychologist’s anonymized peer review notes are the personal information of the patient
The public sector can sometimes disclose personal information, when it is in the public interest. more
Senior Communications Advisor
Learn more about how OPC employees contribute to the promotion and protection of privacy in Canada and what keeps them up at night. more
Speaking of Privacy
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) actively promotes and discusses privacy issues in Canada and abroad by participating in a variety of events and conferences. Check out our Upcoming Events schedule to see what’s on the horizon.
Visit our Speeches page for a complete list of topics we have discussed.
See our previous issues