Would you like to earn $315,300 a year? It’s a bit higher than the average salary for a Canadian privacy pro, but with good reason. It’s the advertised salary for the next privacy commissioner set to replace Daniel Therrien in a year’s time. That’s no small task. Here’s the job post.
In late June, Therrien appeared before the ETHI Committee to share what his main focus will be in his last year as commissioner. (Yeah, he happened to mention law reform.) When asked about transfer of knowledge to a successor, he quite rightly said there are a good number of people in Canada who are very knowledgeable about privacy issues.
So who is it going to be and what will the next commissioner have to do to earn that coin? If we look back at the last 20 years or so we can try to extrapolate what being at the helm might require in the next little while.
I think the person will have to continue to embrace and be a champion in helping educate and promote privacy rights in Canada. Regardless of how laws evolve, the public education mandate remains very important and (in my humble and completely unbiased opinion) is one of the things the Office of the Privacy Commissioner has done really well in the last two decades.
I also think they will have to both be collaborative but also adjudicative, depending on the situation. For sure, previous commissioners made great strides using their collaborative, ombuds-like powers and I can’t imagine the next commissioner will stop that approach entirely. At the same time, we will surely have new laws in place where the regulator will take on more of an administrative tribunal function. This will necessarily entail certain structural changes as well as developing even more robust investigative techniques that pay close attention to the rule of law and procedural fairness. And, with this added emphasis on the adjudicative process will come the ability to levy or recommend monetary penalties. Will the new commissioner be willing to use that big stick? How often will it happen? How large will the fines be?
A new commissioner is going to have be prepared to deal with the increasingly insatiable appetite for data — an appetite held equally by the private and public sectors. Clearly, this person will need the good sense to recognize and support all the great things that can result from the proper and ethical use of data. But, at the same time, they will need to be on guard for those who will push ethical boundaries. Clearly this yin-yang of big data is going to be a challenge going forward.
Lastly, the new commissioner will need to be able to communicate clearly in both English and French at the time of appointment. But hey, that’s a given in the federal government and it would be tough to do the job thoroughly without it.
So, are you going to dust off your resume this summer and apply, and brush up on your language skills while you’re at it? The due date for applications is the last day of August. Good luck to you if you do — and if you get the job, just make sure all your staff read this little blog every week, OK? On that note, have a great weekend.
If you want to comment on this post, you need to login.