On January 28, officially recognized as Data Privacy Day, organizations around the world work to highlight the importance of protecting privacy and personal information. For me and everyone at the IPC, Privacy Day is a chance to remind the public of their rights, raise awareness among public institutions of their responsibilities, and reaffirm our commitment to upholding and strengthening Ontario’s privacy laws.
For three decades our office has been investigating privacy complaints, researching privacy issues, advising on government legislation, and educating the public about privacy rights and risks. Our office continues to grow and take on more responsibilities through changes in legislation and expansion of our oversight responsibilities.
Over the last year, the IPC advised the Ontario government on several key pieces of legislation. Our labours were reflected in three recent and major developments:
- On October 1, 2017, it became mandatory for anyone who deals with health information to notify our office of certain privacy breaches.
- As of January 1, 2018, health information custodians are required to track privacy breach statistics, and will be required to provide our office with an annual report on the number of privacy breaches starting in 2019.
- The IPC will assume oversight of government-funded child and family service agencies under Part X of the recently passed Child, Youth and Family Services Act, which sets out rules for the collection, use and disclosure of personal information and gives individuals the right of access, correction, and complaint.
Since Ontario’s privacy legislation received Royal Assent in 1988, rapidly changing technology has fundamentally altered the way government does business. The use of complex data analytics to develop government programs provides enormous benefits in terms of better and more efficient public services, but also dramatically raises the risk of small and large-scale privacy breaches and unintended discrimination. On Privacy Day, I once again urge the government to modernize our outdated privacy laws so that Ontarians are better protected.
Finally, I would like to invite the public to learn more about their privacy rights and how to protect personal information. I encourage Ontarians to continuously exercise their rights by asking how organizations collect your information, how they use it and how they protect it. Below are just a few of our publications aimed at helping people safeguard their privacy.
- Your Privacy
- Protecting Against Ransomware
- Online Educational Services
- Identity Theft: Crime of Opportunity
- The Personal Health Information Protection Act: Your Privacy
Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario