Liberals will create a data commissioner position if elected, according to party platform

A new Liberal government will increase the power of the federal privacy commissioner and create a new position of data commissioner, according to the party’s platform.

It would also be a requirement that all digital platforms remove what it calls illegal content, including hate speech, within 24 hours.

Additionally, the platform says social media sites must be held accountable for harassment and the promotion of racist and homophobic views.

“To help stop the proliferation of violent extremism online, we will move forward with new regulations for social media platforms, starting with a requirement that all platforms remove illegal content, including hate speech, within 24 hours or face significant financial penalties. This will also include other online harms, such as radicalization, incitement to violence, exploitation of children, or creation or distribution of terrorist propaganda.”

“Because hate speech continues to harm people offline as well, we will also look at options for civil remedies for victims of hate speech.”

As for the data commissioner, the platform says “to better protect people’s personal data and to encourage greater competition in the digital marketplace, we will also move forward with new regulations for large digital companies, overseen by a newly-created data commissioner.”

However, the platform doesn’t make it clear how the responsibilities of the data commissioner will differ from the privacy commissioner. The privacy commissioner oversees the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), which governs businesses that handle personal information in the course of commercial activities.

“Today, a limited number of very large companies hold an extraordinary amount of personal data about Canadians. This can help to make things like online shopping and connecting with family and friends easier and more convenient, but the lack of regulation for online platforms like Facebook and Google – as well as companies that possess large amounts of data, like banks and credit card companies – also means that people have less control over their own personal information.”

The platform says a new Liberal government will go ahead with its previously announced Digital Charter, which it says will establish a new set of online rights to help people feel more in control of their personal data.

Read: Conservative Party security and privacy platform

Read: Green Party security and privacy platform

Using the Digital Charter as a guide, the legislation would be changed to give consumers the right to transfer their personal data from one company to another in a digital format and the right to request deletion of information about them that they provided, with some caveats.

Canadians would have the right to know how personal data is being used, including knowing who has access to it, supported by a national advertising registry where companies would have to report with whom your data is being shared or sold, with the ability to withdraw consent at any time.

Residents would also have the right to be free from discrimination online, including bias and harassment.

A Liberal government would also create a new Canadian Consumer Advocate, whose job will be to “serve as an independent, single point of contact for people who need help with banking, telecom, or transportation-related complaints, and will be empowered to review complaints and, if founded, impose appropriate penalties.”

Finally, the platform also says the party stands on work done since elected in 2015 to ensure federal security agencies are better able to manage cybersecurity threats. That would include spending more money and the merging of several departments to create the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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