Canada’s future as a global hub of technology innovation is both impressive and full of potential. Data-powered artificial intelligence (AI) is expected to add CDN $17 trillion to the global economy by 2030. How much of this value is actually reaped by Canada will depend on the policies of the newly re-elected government.
There-elected Trudeau government announced their vision of privacy as Canada’s Digital Charter in May 2019 and was represented within their re-election platform. The Charter promises Canadians stronger privacy protections including:the ability to erase personal data from online platforms; increased transparency on how Canadians’ data are being used; and more enforcement powers for the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Just as important, it seeks a balance between privacy protection and business growth; it recognizes that regulation must not stifle innovation.
The Liberals have been accused by their political opponents and privacy advocates of not doing enough to protect privacy. To the contrary, in the last four years the Trudeau government has introduced mandatory data breach notification and has expanded the powers of the Office of Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC). It also led to a series of thoughtful, nationwide consultations with industry, governments,academia and consumer groups. These have culminated into a set of privacy reform recommendations included in the Digital Charter.
Updates to the privacy law governing the private sector, the Personal Information and Electronic Document Act (PIPEDA), could be initiated any time after the new government is formed and Parliament resumes in early 2020. The real challenge for the re-elected Trudeau government will be working with, and getting support from, other parties during a coalition or minority tenure tin order to effectively pass legislation. The Liberals also could be faced with a vote of non-confidence which would result in another election being called(historically this has happened within two years of a minority government).
Harmonizing Innovation and Privacy — The Key to Canada’s Future Economic Success
The Digital Charter champions a healthy harmonization of protecting Canadians’ privacy while fueling business innovation. It recognizes the importance of sound, balanced government policies for privacy and cybersecurity, as well as the need for industry measures —including codes, standards and certifications — to enhance privacy accountability and enhance trust with consumers.
Companies need to support the vision of the Digital Charter and be more transparent about how they collect and use personal data; enhance security measures; and articulate the value of data-run services.This will help create the trust that is absolutely essential to ensure full participation by all Canadians in the emerging data-powered economy.
Canada’s emerging leadership in tech will be best fortified with policies that enable companies to be innovative and competitive on the global stage, while effectively protecting the privacy of Canadians.Citizens and companies across the country should not have to choose privacy at the expense of economic prosperity, or vice versa. It is critical for our newly re-elected Liberal government to accomplish the dual objectives of business innovation and citizen trust.