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Canada Dashboard Digest | Notes from the IAPP Canada Managing Director, July 1, 2022 Related reading: Roundup: Ireland, Russia, US and more

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Do you think privacy is officially dead? One of my favorite pundits is Shira Ovide. I read her New York Times column called “On Tech” religiously. This week, she wrote that privacy does not exist — at least not in the United States. She ended her column with “(Google, Facebook and Verizon) and a zillion other companies with a limitless appetite for our information have created the conditions in which privacy doesn’t really exist.” The rest of the article is about the chilling effect that digital breadcrumbs might have for women seeking an abortion in the United States. 

While I do think — and worry — that the digital traces we leave behind can be misused in different ways, I’m not sure if I agree with her wholesale conclusion that privacy doesn’t exist. At least we can argue that it’s different in many ways in Canada — and if anyone wants to move up here, we’re happy to see you! I wonder if the differences between our two countries will continue to amplify in the coming years.

Privacy in Canada is not dead. Sure, there are mishaps like the Clearview AI and Tim Horton’s cases reveal. But even with a legal regime that doesn’t overly punish the wrongdoers, we get strong rulings from our regulators about how organizations are going to be held to task. And I’m quite certain that where our laws do lack teeth, they will be changed sooner rather than later — case in point being how Quebec’s new law will come into effect this September and it clearly has a stronger enforcement mechanism. And I know folks are super interested in knowing when C-27 will come into force once it’s eventually passed.

I don’t think people want privacy to be dead even if we do leave digital traces of ourselves wherever we go. What we really want is ethical use of our data. And while I can’t really speak for the direction the United States is taking on various fronts, perhaps I’m naïve, but I do feel fairly confident that in Canada we will continue to find ways to respect privacy rights — even if the process might be slower than we would like.

I hope everyone has a good Canada Day!

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