On August 13, 2020, the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services began seeking feedback from Ontarians in order to address the gaps in Ontario’s legislative privacy framework and to establish comprehensive and current rules to protect privacy rights and increase confidence in digital services. The comments are due on October 1, 2020.
More specifically, the purpose of the consultation is to improve privacy protections for Ontarians by setting rules for how organizations can collect, use and disclose personal information in a way that the public can confidently participate in the digital economy, use the digital platforms, stay connected with their community, and do business in Ontario.
In particular, the proposals involve the following:
- Increased transparency for individuals, providing Ontarians with more detail about how their information is being used by businesses and organizations
- Enhanced consent provisions allowing individuals to revoke consent at any time, and adopting an opt-in model for secondary uses of their information
- Right for individuals to request information related to them be deleted, subject to limitations (also known as erasure or the right to be forgotten)
- Right for individuals to obtain their data in a standard and portable digital format, giving individuals greater freedom to change service providers without losing their data (also known as data portability)
- Increased enforcement powers for the Information and Privacy Commissioner to ensure businesses comply with the law, including the ability to impose penalties
- Introducing requirements for data that has been de-identified and derived from personal information to provide clarity of applicability of privacy protections
- Expand the scope and application of the legislative framework beyond the private sector and commercial organizations
- Create a legislative framework to enable the establishment of data trusts for privacy protective data sharing
Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, Patricia Kosseim, has recently stated that the recent wave of legislative reforms, including Québec’s Bill 64, the European Union’s GDPR, and California’s Consumer Privacy Act, has given rise to more serious consideration of Ontario’s position on privacy. This, together with further privacy concerns stemming from the global COVID-19 pandemic, such as the transition to virtual workplaces, has shed light on the several regulatory gaps in Ontario’s privacy regime that require attention.
The plan is to have virtual townhall sessions (to be announced in the near future), and directly reach out to various stakeholders for input. Those who are interested in sharing their feedback can take the survey here and submit comments on Ontario’s Regulatory Registry here.