Responding to challenges of new tech, children’s rights among federal privacy czar’s priorities

Promoting Canadians’ fundamental right to privacy, addressing the privacy impacts of new technologies like artificial intelligence, and championing children’s privacy rights will be the priorities of the federal Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC) for the next three years.

Commissioner Philippe Dufresne revealed the strategic plan Monday at the start of the annual observance of Data Privacy Week.

“This plan offers a high-level overview of the kinds of initiatives that we are undertaking, the areas where we will focus our efforts, and the outcomes that we intend to achieve,” Dufresne said in a statement. “It will drive our responsiveness and our proactivity and help us make choices about where to focus our resources. It requires us to consistently equip and continue to develop our talented team and recruit new employees to address the complexities in the field and the changes ahead.”

The plan in part relies on Parliament passing a new privacy law covering federally-regulated industries and businesses in provinces and territories that don’t have their own private sector privacy legislation.

That proposed law, C-27, which includes the Consumer Privacy Protection Act (CPPA) and the Artificial Intelligence Data Act (AIDA), is still before the House of Commons industry and technology committee.

Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne has said the proposed act will be amended before a final vote to make it clear Canadians have a right to privacy.

As part of the CPPA, the privacy commissioner would get new powers, including the ability to recommend fines for violating the act.

To ensure children’s privacy is protected, the privacy commissioner will work for laws that acknowledge children’s rights, and compel organizations to embed privacy in their products and services.

“Our commitment to this issue stems from the belief that children deserve to be children, even in the digital realm, free from deceptive practices and with the freedom to navigate online spaces securely,” the strategic plan says.

The strategic plan is an outline of priorities, and not a detailed list of what the Office of the Privacy Commissioner intends to accomplish.

For example, to achieve the goal of addressing the privacy impacts of technological advances, the OPC intends to establish privacy standards for emerging tech, issue guidance to businesses, and form partnerships “that complement and recognize the breadth of our areas of involvement and our technological capacity.”

Dufresne became privacy commissioner in the summer of 2022. He signaled his direction when he testified last October before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics. At that time, he said that “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.”

Several weeks earlier, when presenting the OPC’s annual report to Parliament, Dufresne said the impact of emerging technologies on personal privacy was also one of his priorities. 

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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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