Privacy bill to give Canadians more control over personal data, but doesn’t limit collection

The bill is the Liberal’s second attempt to update the privacy act, after a previous bill died on the order paper when last year’s election was called

Article content

OTTAWA — The federal Liberal government said new privacy legislation it introduced on Thursday will give Canadians more control over how their personal data is used by companies, while boosting enforcement of violations and introducing rules for artificial intelligence systems.

Advertisement 2

Article content

Privacy advocates are already calling the bill a disappointment. Among other reasons, because the bill would limit the ability of private organizations to collect data on minors, but not for other Canadians, meaning there are no new restrictions on the data that private companies can collect on adults.

Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne told reporters Bill C-27, which is focused on the private sector, “gives more power to the people, more control over their data,” such as requiring plain-language policies allowing people to give informed consent for use of their data, and the ability for Canadians to ask companies to transfer their data between institutions as well as the power to ask companies to destroy their personal data.

Advertisement 3

Article content

“I think it’s much needed because you’re looking at the economy of the 21st century. The data economy is in our everyday life,” he said. Champagne pointed out that the currently privacy law predates smartphones and social media.

Internet advocacy group OpenMedia called Bill C-27 a “tremendous disappointment,” with campaigns director Matt Hatfield saying in a press release it “includes neither limits on the collection and sale of our data through the data broker economy, nor recognition that privacy is a fundamental human right.”

Experts have warned that most Canadians likely have no idea of the extent to which their data is now gathered, stored, and sold on a regular basis. The private sector — including Big Tech, telecom companies, smartphone apps, data brokers and more — collects, anonymizes, and sells a vast amount of information on all Canadians.

Advertisement 4

Article content

Earlier this year, controversy emerged when the Public Health Agency of Canada admitted using de-identified and aggregated data obtained from third parties to track Canadian travel patterns during the pandemic.

  1. Anonymized data is used for profiling and targeted marketing, and “may also be used for artificial intelligence, to develop tools or products or services,” an insider says.

    Health agency’s data tracking spurs calls for new laws

  2. A video surveillance camera hangs by the side of a building. Canada's privacy commissioners are calling for laws limiting the use of the technology by police forces.

    Privacy watchdogs call for laws limiting police use of facial recognition

That activity was legal under current privacy laws and will remain so under the new bill, though Justice Minister David Lametti said Thursday that the government is also working on amending the Privacy Act, the privacy legislation that covers the public sector. The new bill also clarifies the definitions of anonymized and de-identified information, government officials said in a background briefing.

Advertisement 5

Article content

Champagne said the bill would hold organizations to “a higher standard when it comes to protecting the personal information of children and will give them and their parents more power over this information, including the ability to have it deleted.”

Privacy lawyer David Fraser said the bill treats children’s information as sensitive information, but “if the kid is old enough to understand what’s going on, they are the ones who get to consent, even if their parents don’t.” Fraser said that’s an approach that’s in “clear alignment” with the way consent by children is treated in health care.

The bill is the Liberal government’s second attempt to update the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, after a previous bill died on the order paper when last year’s election was called. The new version includes a section focusing on artificial intelligence systems.

Advertisement 6

Article content

The government said in a release the bill would ensure “high-impact AI systems are developed and deployed in a way that identifies, assesses and mitigates the risks of harm and bias.” It would also establish an AI and data commissioner and put in place criminal penalties for use of unlawfully-obtained data by AI and “where the reckless deployment of AI poses serious harm and where there is fraudulent intent to cause substantial economic loss through its deployment.”

Champagne said the bill would make Canada one of the first countries in the world to have such an AI framework. “That’s the type of thing that’s going way further than many other nations,” he said.

Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne announces proposed legislation that includes a new privacy regime to give Canadians more control over their personal data, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Thursday, June 16, 2022.
Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne announces proposed legislation that includes a new privacy regime to give Canadians more control over their personal data, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Thursday, June 16, 2022. Photo by Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

Fraser said that not only is “there a field of study related to creating artificial intelligence and machine learning systems, there’s also a growing field of people are scrutinizing those systems, to ensure that inadvertently or intentionally that they do not have a discriminatory effect in terms of their output.”

Advertisement 7

Article content

In a case where artificial intelligence is used to screen job applications, “you absolutely don’t want a system that inadvertently or absolutely intentionally, screens out individuals from racialized communities for example.” Fraser said.

The bill also includes stronger enforcement of the privacy law. It establishes a new administrative tribunal to enforce the legislation and gives the federal privacy commissioner the power to make orders, something that office has long been calling for.

“The legislation creates the possibility of penalties that never existed before, and the penalties and fines actually on the criminal side that didn’t exist before and could be quite punitive, that are on the same scale in nature of those under the European” General Data Protection Regulation, Fraser said.

Advertisement

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Checkout latest world news below links :
World News || Latest News || U.S. News

Source link

The post Privacy bill to give Canadians more control over personal data, but doesn’t limit collection appeared first on WorldNewsEra.

Tags :