Federal Liberals plan to pass a privacy law today to give Canadians more control over their personal data and introduce new rules for the use of artificial intelligence.
The bill, due to be introduced by Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne, aims to fulfill his mandate to promote a federal digital charter, strengthen consumer privacy protections, and establish clear rules for fair competition in the online marketplace.
The Digital Charter sets out 10 principles that range from ensuring control over information to severe penalties for data misuse.
The law is expected to revive some elements of a previous bill introduced by the Liberals in late 2020 that never became law.
The bill would have required companies to obtain consent from customers in plain language, rather than a lengthy legal document, before using their personal data.
It also aimed to allow Canadians to demand that their information on social media such as Facebook or Twitter be permanently deleted.
The bill would give the federal privacy commissioner executive powers, including the ability to require a company to stop collecting data or using personal information, as well as recommend a planned tribunal to impose a fine.
However, he has not heeded long-standing calls from privacy and accountability advocates for federal law governing personal information to apply directly to political parties.
New privacy commissioner appointed
Daniel Therrien, who has long campaigned for reforms as the federal privacy commissioner, criticized the previous bill as “a step backwards overall” compared to the current law.
This would give consumers less control and organizations more flexibility to monetize personal data without increasing their accountability, he said last May, before the legislation expires after the general election is announced.
Therrien, who recently ended his term, also said the legislation puts commercial interests ahead of people’s privacy rights, and he advocates a framework that would enshrine privacy as a human right.
Philippe Dufresne, the government’s nominee to replace Therienne, told a House of Commons committee this week that the upcoming bill should recognize privacy as a “fundamental right.”