I remember when Daniel Therrien first took the position of Privacy Commissioner for Canada, he said that he wanted his office to consult. He seemed committed to the idea that he would not take hard positions with respect to privacy rights and obligations without first knowing everything he could from stakeholders.
Well, I must admit, he is sticking with this mantra. Last week, on Friday after this Digest came out, he released a draft position on the thorny issue of online reputation (aka the right to be forgotten). Neat little fact that most people don’t know: His email to stakeholders came out in the afternoon after his office building was evacuated because of a threat of some sort. Sure hope someone was hitting send remotely.
I digress. The real issue is that the right to be forgotten has finally come to center stage in Canada. And, in keeping with the idea that the Commissioner wants to consult, he set out a draft position paper. Everyone in the country should read it here.
Consultation is what he wanted, and from the looks of it, that’s what he is going to get. There’s been a plethora of commentary already. And, that’s just what people are making public. Take, for example, Michael Geist’s blog where he sets out a number of, hmmm, hurdles. He even goes so far as to say that search engines may not be conducting commercial activity when we “google” something. I have to admit, that argument surprised me a little.
What’s clear is that the right-to-be-forgotten decision from Europe from a few years ago has finally made its way to Canada. Much of the reaction so far suggests this is an issue that warrants further debate in Canada to strike the right chord. Did the OPC find it? Let's see. It’s not entirely clear how that right will work out in practice (i.e. consultations are on-going), but something definitive is on its way that will at least set some clarity in this murky area and set the tone for online privacy rights and obligations in the years ahead.
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