The House of Commons sits empty ahead the resumption of the session on Parliament Hill Friday September 12, 2014 in Ottawa. Philippe Dufresne, the government's nominee to be the next federal privacy watchdog, says coming legislation must recognize privacy as a fundamental right. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Privacy bill sets out rules on use of personal data, artificial intelligence

Act would increase Canadians’ control over their personal information and how it is handled digitally

The federal Liberals introduced privacy legislation Thursday to give Canadians more control over their personal data, impose fines for non-compliant digital platforms and introduce new rules for the use of artificial intelligence.

The bill, presented by Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne, aims to fulfil his mandate to advance the federal digital charter, strengthen privacy protections for consumers and provide clear rules for fair competition in the online marketplace.

Bill C-27, or the Digital Charter Implementation Act, 2022, revives some aspects of a previous bill, introduced by the Liberals in late 2020, that did not become law.

Under the umbrella of the bill, a new Consumer Privacy Protection Act would aim to increase Canadians’ control over their personal information and how it is handled by digital platforms.

It would limit the information companies can collect on minors, and give Canadians the ability to request that digital platforms permanently delete their data.

It would also give the Privacy Commissioner of Canada order-making powers to encourage compliance via a new tribunal.

Those powers would include the ability to fine non-compliant companies up to five per cent of their global revenue or $25 million, whichever amount is greater, for certain serious offences.

A proposed Artificial Intelligence and Data Act would create new rules around the creation and deployment of new AI technologies.

It would create an AI and Data Commissioner with the power to order third-party audits of companies’ activities.

It would also outline criminal offences and penalties related to the use of illegally-obtained AI data, the “reckless” deployment of AI and its use with any intent to “cause substantial economic loss.”

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce said in a statement Thursday that the changes are a welcome but long overdue development.

“The law has not kept up with the pace of change, nor with Canada’s international competitors,” the organization’s senior vice-president, Mark Agnew, said.

“The so-called lines between ‘digital’ and ‘traditional’ business no longer exist and Canada’s laws must be equipped for this reality, or else our businesses risk falling behind their international counterparts.”

With the House of Commons soon rising for a summer break, it is unlikely the bill will see much debate until the fall.

—The Canadian Press

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