What does it mean to consent to the collection, use and disclosure of personal information? Back when the OECD first set out the basic privacy principles that grew to become the bedrock of most privacy laws, there was no doubt that a pillar to any meaningful right to privacy was that people should be able to consent to their information being processed.
And, to say that this right has to be meaningful, or as they say in Quebec, “free, enlightened and manifest” is pretty easy. But what does that really mean, in practice?
This topic was top of mind this past week at the Symposium, and, as Commissioner Therrien reminded us, it is not simply an academic issue. It has real meaning, with real impact. To this end, I encourage you to look at, and participate in the consultation that the OPC is conducting on what might be the most appropriate consent model for us in this digital age. Does the existing model need to evolve and if so, how?
And, while that topic was one of many that got canvassed at the conference, there were myriad others. Too many, in fact, to try and list here. Even during the game show, we got into some pretty serious issues and even highlighted, thanks to NS Commissioner Tully, a very real story involving an elderly man trying to learn the identity of his birth parent. It was a good, grounding reminder that our work does have a real impact on people's lives.
For me, one conversation that stood out was the one I had on stage with my friend, Ian Kerr, who shared his thoughts on whether it’s possible for a robot to invade a human’s privacy. If there is absolutely no human interaction between us and the AIs that are close on the horizon, will it mean anything if those machines process our information … a novel take on the idea that "if a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one there, will it make it sound?"
I'm very proud and grateful to the amazing IAPP team that ran a first class, sold out, 500-attendee conference that stimulated myriad ideas and opportunities for our Canadian privacy professionals. We also got to, collectively, giveCommissioner Denham a proper send off to the U.K., with our best wishes and a heartwarming tribute.
Next year’s conference is May 17 and 18. It will likely sell out again. So, if I were you, I’d get it onto your learning plan right away, if you can!
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