Problematic Privacy Reform – Therrien’s Annual Report to Parliament

Today Commissioner Daniel Therrien of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC) presented his office’s annual report to Parliament on the Privacy Act and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). As he enters the final year of his term leading the helm, it is clear that Therrien wants to see a new federal law before he says goodbye. Unfortunately, it is one that is a departure from the now-dead Bill C-11.

In his letter to parliament, and in his subsequent press conference, he reflects on the past year and states “I was deeply concerned that Bill C-11, which died on the order paper when the election was called, would be a step backwards. With the opening of a new Parliament, I am hopeful that the government will make some of the changes we have proposed, and we look forward to working with them on legislative reform.” He then goes on to say “As a society we must project our values into the laws that regulate the digital space. Our citizens expect nothing less from their public institutions. It is on this condition that confidence in the digital economy, damaged by numerous scandals, will return.”

Fundamentally, IAB Canada and its members would agree that Privacy needs reform but it was concerning to us to note his positive shout out to Quebec’s new Bill 64 and it’s human rights approach to privacy. Therrien also includes some additional colour on why he believes AI was not adequately addressed in the proposed Bill C-11. The laundry list of items that he wants addressed as top issues in a new federal law are unpacked in detail and include: 

  1. Enable responsible innovation
  2. Adopt a rights-based framework
  3. Increase corporate accountability
  4. Adopt similar principles in public and private sectors laws 
  5. Ensure Canadian laws are interoperable, internationally and domestically
  6. Adopt quick and effective remedies, including giving my office the authority to make legally binding orders against offenders and to impose meaningful monetary penalties where warranted.
  7. Inclusion of AI specific considerations and recommendations including clarity regarding the role of inferential data in categorizing and profiling individuals

While most of this is not a surprise it should be noted that a revisit to what was generally considered a fair revamp of PIPEDA could result in more stringent regulation. To date, policy makers at ISED who drafted the Bill have not said that they will bend to the OPC’s wish list. We will be paying close attention to this. Minister Champagne has said that a new Bill will likely be tabled in the coming year, and we have also been told that the OPC will be holding another consultation with industry in the first part of 2022. IAB Canada will once again work with our privacy working group to provide meaningful input to the OPC and ISED and ensure that the voice of the digital advertising industry is heard loud and clear. You can find our past submissions here to both ISED and the OPC.

If you are an IAB Canada member and would like to join the conversation, please reach out to