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Canada: House of Commons releases report on government's collection and use of mobility data

The House of Commons of Canada released, on 2 May 2022, the House Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics' ('ETHI') report on the Collection and Use of Mobility Data by the Government of Canada. In particular, the report addresses the government's use of mobility data in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and related privacy risks that this created, as well as addressing discussions around the de-identification and possible re-identification of data and risks in this regard. Moreover, the report addresses the need for stronger federal privacy legislation, and makes recommendations that can be used to ensure that an appropriate legal framework for data use in Canada is in place.

In addition, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada ('OPC') issued, on 4 May 2022, a statement on the report. More specifically, the OPC stated its agreement with the conclusions of the ETHI, and noted that certain amendments to federal law are of particular relevance, including:

  • that the current public sector privacy law and the awaited new private sector privacy law should, while allowing for flexibility in the use of de-identified information, also consider that such information is personal and must therefore be protected;
  • that private and public privacy laws should give organisations flexibility to use personal information without consent for purposes which are considered as responsible innovation and socially beneficial, but doing so should be done within a legal framework that considers privacy as a human right; and
  • that this greater flexibility to use personal information should directly be related to increased transparency and accountability.

You can read the report here and the OPC statement here.