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Canada Dashboard Digest | Notes from the IAPP Canada Managing Director, May 21, 2021 Related reading: Notes from the IAPP Canada Managing Director, May 14, 2021

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Ask, and ye shall receive … A little over a month ago, I wrote about how I hoped the government would turn its mind to the privacy issues associated with vaccine passports. This week, we saw some movement on that front. 

Does this mean we can go places now? Nope, not quite yet. But I feel like it’s possible we’ve made a little headway. 

Canada’s privacy commissioners and ombudspersons got together for their Federal, Provincial and Territorial meeting and issued some direction on what they expect when it comes to vaccine passports from a privacy standpoint.

The Oakes test was front and center, with the commissioners emphasizing the necessity of vaccine passports must be evidence-based, and there must be no other less privacy intrusive and equally effective measures in achieving the specified purposes. They emphasized things like transparency, data minimization, limitations on use, retention and scope, implementing safeguards and ensuring proper oversight. They also reminded the government they’d need to do a privacy impact assessment, which, of course, should capture these things if done well and prior to any launch. 

I admit I heard some feedback about an interesting line tucked into the joint statement that came close to hinting the commissioners have questions about the effectiveness of vaccines themselves (is that really their expertise?), but I’m going to focus on the bigger picture here. 

I don’t know about you, but while the primary focus is obviously on vaccinations and keeping loved ones healthy, I really and desperately want to travel again, see the world, visit places. I also want to do so safely, without the risk of harming individuals in a far-away place, and I expect the same in return. We’re going to need something … like a vaccine passport, I think. I’m glad the commissioners focused part of their meeting this week on offering proactive and timely input on this issue. Now let’s just hope the call doesn’t fall on deaf ears and that if we’re getting vaccine passports, the privacy is handled both properly and swiftly — we’ve got people and places to see. 

Anyway, enough ranting about that. Meanwhile, I’m glad to report the IAPP Canada Symposium is underway. I hope you were able to join us to hear Professor Ryan Calo start things off by giving the Ian Kerr Memorial Lecture. He certainly gave us a lot to think about when it comes to the ethics of data collection and use, which, frankly, made me remember Ian fondly. As Ryan aptly put it, Ian was at his core a humanist and moral philosopher, after all. 

Other than catching up on your privacy news, I’d like to leave you with one task on this long May weekend. You should know we’ve got a Canadian Privacy Virtual Roundtable taking place May 25. It’s a great way to connect with colleagues for a casual conversation about what’s going on in privacy. All you have to do is click here to RSVP, and it’s free to members. 

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