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Privacy Commissioner issues annual report

Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien has released an annual report that recommends the overhaul of Canadian privacy protections online. According to the report, urgent change is required to restore public confidence in technology and reduce consumer fears of losing control of their personal information. Proposed changes include legislative amendments to provide for order-making powers and the ability to impose administrative monetary penalties.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner will also immediately implement several internal changes. It plans to shift away from a complaints-based ombudsman system of privacy protection to a "proactive enforcement and compliance model." It will also update is guidelines regarding online consent and develop new guidelines concerning the collection, use and disclosure of personal information.

"Canadians' fear that they are losing their privacy is real," said Therrien. "They expect concrete, robust solutions to restore their confidence in technology as something that will serve their interests and not be a threat to their rights. The digital revolution has brought us important benefits and will continue to be a major contributor to economic growth. Few of us would like to go back to the pre-digital age, but no one has agreed to give away their privacy on the basis of 50-page privacy policies written in legalese most lawyers don't understand. It is clear, for example, that Canadians need to be supported by an independent regulator with the legislation and resources necessary to properly inform citizens, guide industry, hold businesses accountable, and sanction inappropriate conduct. Canadians do not feel protected by a law that has no teeth and businesses held to no more than non-binding recommendations."

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