CTV News has a profile of Canadian Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart, who has taken on a number of important privacy issues.
The biggest stunner is that Canada’s privacy cop, who is quietly dismissed in some Silicon Valley circles as an old-fashioned scold, is something of an Internet rebel. The same regulator who famously stared down Facebook and forced it to tighten privacy standards for 500 million global users, is in fact, she shares, an early advocate for access to information on the Internet.
Her technology epiphany occurred in the early 2000s when Ms. Stoddart travelled to Britain as the president of Quebec’s Commission on Access to Information to get a close look at the country’s innovative access-to-information laws. […]
What they figured out, and what continues to shape her thinking as a regulator, is that the Internet is a powerful tool that can ensure greater transparency and accountability in governments and other organizations.
“Governments shouldn’t hoard information. The information is there and it belongs to the people,” she says. “Information and the manipulation of information is the key to power. Those who can control the information can influence society enormously. The more accurate the flow of information the … more productive we can be.” […]
The other thing you need to know is that Ms. Stoddart is not in the least bit dewy-eyed about the innovative marvels of the Internet. Although she recognized in the early 2000s that the Web represented a “tectonic shift” in human society and communications, she was always skeptical that an open digital world was a gateway to the better life that its early inventors promised. […]
Ms. Stoddart says the Internet privacy battle “is not over yet, because it is such a fast-changing world.” After the federal government extended her mandate this week by another three years, she hints she will be seeking more enforcement powers for the commission, but she declines to divulge specifics.
More clout would definitely make her job easier, but if the social philosopher had one wish, it would be to create a button to make things disappear on the Internet. “What if after five years you could press a ‘delete’ button” she says, that could wipe out embarrassing photos or posts that never die on the Web. “People have the right to be forgotten.”