I hope you’ve all been having a good and productive week. In today’s notes, I thought I’d highlight a few things coming out of Ottawa and the world stage I found interesting over the last couple of days.
You probably heard there was a cabinet shuffle with lots of moving parts. However, two departments whose ministers did not change were Justice (Minister Lametti) and ISED (Minister Champagne). Champagne, mind you, has only been at ISED since January, so he’s still new in the job. What does this mean for privacy? Well, it looks to me like the federal government will likely stay the course on plans for new legislation.
Also, on the legislative front, you might have heard about plans for a new online harms bill that seems to be generating some controversy. The government ran a consultation over the summer. More recently, they outlined their approach and next steps, which include creating a new commissioner. Many are expressing concerns about government overreach, deputization of the private sector and the potential chilling effect on freedom of expression. Interestingly, it seems the government forgot to consult the privacy commissioner, despite the obvious impacts on privacy.
Another interesting bit of news is the blowback the federal government is getting for making it mandatory for public servants to be vaccinated. It sounds like a number of people have complained, and the OPC is looking into the issue. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out, and it’s clear the pandemic continues to raise privacy questions.
Anyway, enough about Ottawa. If we take a broader view, you may be aware the Global Privacy Assembly was held last week. This group used to be called the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners. The GPA meets once a year, in the fall, and Mexico’s INAI was this year’s host. It looks like there were some interesting sessions, and it was great to see Canadian representation on the roster, including Elizabeth Denham — the GPA chair — Michael McEvoy, Colin Bennet, Khaled El Emam, Amanda Clarke, and even our own J. Trevor Hughes.
Remember that at these events, DPAs put forward, debate and adopt resolutions. It’s worth looking at their summary of the event and the resolutions they adopted because it can give you a sense of what, collectively, these folks may be prioritizing and working on together in the coming year. Here’s the shortlist of resolutions: data sharing for the public good; children’s digital rights; one on government access to personal data held by the private sector for national security and public safety; and then there were a couple of housekeeping ones too.
Before I sign off and while I’m on conferences, I want to thank everyone who took the time to submit a proposal for the IAPP Canada Symposium in the spring. We’ve got some great ideas for sessions — more than we’ll have room for. I predict it will be a conference very rich in content. Plus, I now have a really fun idea for our game show ... and that’s all I’m going to say about it.
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