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Milestone privacy call discusses past and present trends

Author(s): Adam Kardash

Jan 26, 2022

An engaging discussion about past and present privacy and data management trends was fitting for Osler’s 100th monthly AccessPrivacy call in January, hosted by Adam Kardash, Partner, Privacy and Data Management, and featuring guests Patricia Kosseim, Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, and Michael McEvoy, Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia.

The use of facial recognition technology and artificial intelligence first emerged as a potential privacy issue several years ago and remains of paramount concern today. Both Commissioners acknowledged the importance of developing parameters around these technologies.

As well, both Commissioners reported an alarming surge in the number of cybersecurity and ransomware complaints received by their offices. In Ontario in 2021, for example, there was a doubling of cybersecurity incidents reported compared to the previous year. Cybercrime is becoming increasingly sophisticated.

In 2021, both Commissioners received numerous calls about vaccination and proof of vaccination policies. Canadians are clearly paying attention to how vaccine-related information is being collected and used by organizations. Related to those concerns, there were complaints about breaches caused by sending group emails without using the BCC function in organizations, with some communications inadvertently conveying information about the COVID status of individual email recipients.

With more data flowing across borders, the Commissioners reported increased co-operation among privacy regulators when conducting breach investigations, as well as with regulators in other areas, such as human rights commissions and consumer protection agencies. The B.C. IPC has even been working with its U.K. counterpart on international privacy investigations that involve B.C. companies.

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