This week, I thought I’d focus on some work out of British Columbia and Ontario.
Facial recognition has been in Canadian privacy news recently, on a couple of fronts and both out of British Columbia.
The Office of Information Privacy Commissioner released its findings into the Canadian Tire matter, which generated some fanfare. Commissioner Michael McEvoy concluded the use of facial recognition by the retailer was a violation of the Personal Information Protection Act. The store, as part of the investigation, agreed to stop using the controversial technology. Rather than making a long list of recommendations, big and small, I thought it was interesting to see the OIPC make one big (and, hopefully, impactful) one: that Canadian Tire implement a more robust privacy management program. And, probably knowing that the case would get some attention, the commissioner also used the pulpit to encourage the government to start modernizing the British Columbia law.
The second facial recognition case in the news this week is a bit anticlimactic. It was simply an announcement that the OIPC British Columbia discontinued its investigation into the Liberal Party’s use of facial recognition as part of its nomination process. A few people commented that even though the political party had agreed to stop using the technology, it would have been useful to get a finding, and I tend to agree. As these technologies become more pervasive, I think we can benefit from more published decisions informing us on how our regulators are deciding on these technologies and issues.
Now, let’s jump to my home province of Ontario, where there have been some new resources launched on the children’s privacy front — an issue we are seeing more and more in mainstream these days. Did you notice the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario launched some very cool new lesson plans to complement their other children and youth privacy resources? I encourage all of you to check the new lesson plans out here — especially if you have, or deal with, children. I’m going to one of my kid’s schools in a couple of weeks to talk about privacy rights and privacy law and these will definitely come in handy.
Lastly, a bit of national privacy news out of Ottawa. There’s finally been some movement for Bill C-27 in Parliament. It concluded second reading and was referred to the parliamentary committee (Standing Committee on Industry and Technology), which will study the bill. Remember this bill is born out of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and presented by its minister, so it should be no great surprise that INDU is the committee tasked with reviewing it. No word yet on when those hearings will be held, but if you’re inclined to make a submission or to try to get your voice heard, now would be a good time to get started.
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