TORONTO, June 4, 2012 /CNW/ - Ontario's Information and Privacy
Commissioner, Dr. Ann Cavoukian, has proclaimed "Ever Vigilant," as the
theme for her just released 2011 Annual Report. This follows in the
footsteps of her efforts, which began early last year, to raise
awareness about grave privacy concerns over federal "lawful access"
The report shows that 2011 was another very active year for the
protection of privacy and access to information. New records were set
for the number of freedom of information requests filed, appeals
submitted, and privacy complaints made under the three Acts (FIPPA, MFIPPA and PHIPA) which fall under the Commissioner's jurisdiction.
Also making great strides last year were the Commissioner's
made-in-Ontario solutions of Privacy by Design and Access by Design, which call for embedding default privacy and access within processes
and technologies, right from the outset.
Proposed Federal Legislation Threatens Freedom and Privacy
Beginning in mid-2011, Commissioner Cavoukian launched a campaign to
increase public awareness about "lawful access" legislation advanced by
the federal government. On this issue, she wrote an open letter to
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, penned several op-eds and letters to
the editor, organized a pivotal symposium, conducted dozens of media
interviews, urged Canadians to write their members of Parliament,
mounted a dedicated website (www.realprivacy.ca) and developed concrete recommendations to amend the proposed law to
ensure that privacy rights are respected.
Reintroduced as Bill C-30 in February 2011, this legislation was
designed to provide police with much greater ability to access and
track information about identifiable individuals via everyday
communications technologies, such as the Internet and smartphones, at
times, without a warrant or any judicial authorization.
"This so-called "lawful access" legislation represented one of the most
invasive threats to our privacy and freedom that I have ever
encountered in my 25 years. The broad powers proposed represent much
more - they represent a looming system of what I am calling,
"Surveillance by Design," said Commissioner Cavoukian.
"Although the Prime Minister has signalled his openness to amend the
bill, we must not let our guard down - we must remain ever vigilant to
safeguard our privacy, the underpinning of freedom and liberty.
Urges the Ontario Government to Implement Open Data
In 2011, Commissioner Cavoukian continued to advocate for Open Data, a
concept that calls for certain types of non-personal, general records
to be made freely available, in machine-readable format, to everyone to
use and republish, without restriction.
A growing movement, Open Data has been embraced by a number of
municipalities. The City of Toronto has set a world-class example with www.DataTO.org, a one-stop website where anyone can find and download diverse
information on many subjects relevant to the city.
Ontario still lacks a centralized data portal, although discussions have
been mounting. "As Commissioner, I believe that Ontario needs to
establish its own Open Data portal so that we may continue to
demonstrate that we are a world leader in access to information. I
therefore urge the government of Ontario to have a centralized Open
Data site up and running by the end of 2012," said Commissioner
Privacy by Design Flourishes as the International Standard for Privacy Protection
The Commissioner continued to advance Privacy by Design (PbD) in 2011. Here are some highlights showing the Commissioner's
groundbreaking work to spread the word about PbD.
International recognition of PbD's principles by many organizations, including the European Union, the
California Public Utility Commission and U.S. Senators John Kerry and
John McCain, who cited PbD in their Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights;
Continued support by The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC):
Former Federal Trade Commissioner, Pamela Jones Harbour, strongly
supported the use of PbD, and advocated its application in FTC Consent Decrees. Jon Leibowitz,
Chairman of the FTC, continued to recommend PbD. Following a December 2010 report first recommending PbD, a final FTC report was issued in March 2012, in which three practices
were recommended - the first among them, that companies adopt a Privacy by Design approach by building privacy protections into their everyday business
In May, the Ontario and Lottery Gaming Corporation rolled out its
long-awaited facial recognition program, which the Information and
Privacy Commissioner (IPC) helped to develop, at all of its 27 gambling
facilities in Ontario;
Organizations across the globe operationalized the Principles of PbD, showing that privacy can spark innovation;
Privacy by ReDesign, the first spinoff of PbD, was introduced to provide a framework for improving privacy protection
in existing mature and legacy systems;
Many collaborative projects took place, including a partnership with San
Diego Gas & Electric, whose parent Sempra Energy, is a Fortune 500
Declaring 2011 as "the Year of the Engineer," the Commissioner reached
out globally to bring PbD to engineers and developers.
Helping Hospitals to Prepare for Freedom of Information Legislation
Commissioner Cavoukian spent much of 2011 consulting, collaborating and
cooperating with Ontario's hospitals to help them prepare for operating
under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), which took effect January 1, 2012.
"As Ontario was the last province in Canada to extend FIPPA to hospitals, I was very pleased to reach out to hospitals across the
province, and to encourage them to take a proactive, rather than a
reactive, approach to public disclosure, releasing information as part
of an automatic process," said Commissioner Cavoukian.
Key Statistics: New Record Set for 2011 Freedom of Information (FOI)
A total of 45,159 freedom of information (FOI) requests were filed in
Ontario in 2011, a new record, up 16 per cent from the previous record
of 38,903, set in 2010;
In 2011, 1,214 appeals (of decisions issued by individual government
organizations related to FOI requests) were submitted to the IPC — the
highest number ever;
Overall, 1,023 appeals were closed last year, a 12 per cent increase
A record 277 privacy complaints were closed in 2011.
Get Your Local Perspective - In-depth Statistics Available
A more detailed look at FOI compliance rates, requests, appeals and
privacy statistics is available in the online section of the
Commissioner's Annual Report. This lists specific 2011 statistics for
Ontario's ministries, agencies and local government institutions
covered under the Acts, such as municipalities, universities, health units and police services.
Find it all at www.ipc.on.ca.
About the IPC
The Information and Privacy Commissioner is appointed by and reports to
the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Canada, and is independent of the
government of the day. The Commissioner's mandate includes overseeing
the access and privacy provisions of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, as well as the Personal Health Information Protection Act, which applies to both public and private sector health information
custodians. The Commissioner's mandate includes educating the public
about access and privacy issues.
SOURCE Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner/Ontario
For further information:
Direct line: 416-326-3939
Cell Phone: 416-873-9746