On May 28, 2015 Daniel Therrien, Canada's Federal Privacy
Commissioner, previewed the OPC's priorities for attendees
of the International Association of Privacy Professionals
(IAPP) Canada Privacy Symposium.
These priorities were formed after consulting with public and
private stakeholders, academics, consumer groups and the Canadian
public. Driven by the vision to increase the control Canadians have
over their personal information, Commissioner Therrien laid out his
The economics of personal information;
Reputation and privacy; and
The body as information.
The OPC will address these priorities through exploration of
technological solutions, promoting good privacy governance, and
enhancing public education. Other strategies to address these
priorities will involve addressing challenges relating to privacy
in a borderless world and the way in which these priority issues
affect vulnerable groups.
The Economics of Personal Information
This priority focuses on the idea that personal information is a
commodity. There is concern that the power relationship between
consumers and industries favours the latter and that more
regulation is required. The issue of obtaining consent in the
online world, and whether that is realistically achievable in the
continuously growing age of big data, is a continuing concern.
This priority addresses the need to find the right balance
between government collection and surveillance of its citizens for
national security purposes while respecting its citizen's
privacy rights. Although controversial Bill C-51, the
Anti-terrorism Act, may be enacted and come into force,
the OPC is expected to be active in ensuring that Bill C-51 will be
implemented in accordance with the Privacy Act, and report
to Parliament and Canadians of any concerns.
Reputation and Privacy
This priority includes concerns regarding the ramifications to
not only the information individuals share online but the
information that is collected and categorized about individuals by
organizations as they utilize online resources. This priority may
be restricted to educating Canadians but may also include taking a
significant position on the right to be forgotten.
The Body as Information:
The body as information priority involves the OPC's efforts
to stay ahead of the latest technological advancements and the
related privacy concerns, including wearable devices and
Perhaps most striking are not the priorities themselves or the
strategies to address them but Commissioner Therrien's overall
approach. In some areas, such as the economics of personal
information, Commissioner Therrien has stated that the OPC will
conduct broad stakeholder consultations prior to forming guidance.
The OPC's openness and direct engagement with stakeholders
across Canada is a welcome theme of his first year as
The OPC is expected to release its strategic report in June that
will outline greater detail on the four priorities and upcoming
activities it intends to launch.
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