ITAC Responds to Privacy Commissioner on Modernizing Consent         

In late-May, the federal Office of the Privacy Commissioner launched a consultation to consider options for how the government could modernize Canada’s main privacy law for business, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).  The consultation focused primarily on how emerging trends, like data analytics and the internet of things, could potentially impact notions of consent.

Citizens and businesses face some of the real challenges around consent, including the practical limits of individuals understanding and giving meaningful consent for every potential use of their personal data. On some level consent will always be about trust, and a strong regulatory framework for privacy, including regulatory oversight and reasonable limitations on how data can be used, are important elements in establishing trust between businesses and their customers.

In its current form, PIPEDA is flexible and can accommodate changes in technology and social norms around information sharing.  However, technology neutral and principles-based laws (such as PIPEDA) can only be effective if the interpretation of the law also remains flexible and reflects practical realities. In our response, ITAC recommends the Privacy Commissioner take advantage of the adaptability of PIPEDA and modernize their interpretations to allow for innovation and new technologies. If this is not possible, ITAC recommends the Privacy Commissioner introduce new exceptions, around “legitimate business uses” and “consistent purposes” that allow for use of implied consent in reasonable and appropriate circumstances.

Any changes to PIPEDA will have a significant impact on the use of data in Canada’s economy. ITAC will continue to closely monitor this file and ensure its members’ voices are heard.

You can view ITAC’s full response to the Privacy Commissioner


If you have any questions, please contact David Messer at