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    Canadian Privacy Commissioner Releases Annual Report

    Canadian Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart has released her annual report on the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). In the introduction, she says:

    In many ways, 2009 was a watershed year for the Office.

    We saw an exponential growth in investigations dealing with new technologies – and it seems clear that technology issues will dominate our work in the years ahead. […]

    In 2009, our comprehensive investigation into Facebook’s privacy policies and practices resulted in a commitment by this global social networking giant to make numerous changes in response to our concerns. We will be monitoring those changes in 2010 to ensure compliance with the agreement.

    We also worked to address privacy risks related to other types of technological applications, such as street-level imaging and deep packet inspection, which allows network providers to peer into the digital packets that make up transmissions over a network in order to, for example, search for viruses and spam. As a result of our interventions, both Google Street View and Canpages, which offer virtual, 360-degree tours of Canadian neighbourhoods, agreed to make changes to better respect the privacy rights of Canadians.

    At the end of the year, we received a new complaint about Facebook, as well as complaints about another social networking site, an online dating service and some Internet retailers – setting the stage for online privacy issues to be a key focus of our work in 2010.

    The online world – and technology more generally – will undoubtedly be the drivers of most emerging privacy issues in the years to come. […]

    On the whole, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act is working well and we have been able to apply the law to technologies and business models that didn’t even exist when PIPEDA came into force. But it’s important to ensure that it continues to meet the challenge of emerging trends.

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