Thursday, March 23, 2006

Privacy Commissioner's Office renews contributions program

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada's contributions program has been renewed for another year. Check out the press-release:

Privacy Commissioner's Office renews its cutting-edge privacy research program:

Ottawa, March 22, 2006 – The Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Jennifer Stoddart, today announced the renewal of funding through her Office's Contributions Program which, for the last three years, has allowed some of Canada's brightest privacy experts to develop a wealth of information on various privacy challenges of the 21st century.

"Knowledge is the ultimate currency, and with the research developed through our Contributions Program we will be in a position to further strengthen our mission of safeguarding and preserving privacy rights that are cherished in our democracy," said Ms. Stoddart. "It will also shed light on new approaches to dealing with critical privacy issues."

This is the third year of the Program, which was launched in June 2004 to further the development of a national research capacity in Canada on the broad spectrum of issues that have an impact on privacy. The Office is mandated to undertake and publish research related to the protection of personal information, and the Program was set up as part of the Office's budget pursuant to its program/legislative authority under federal private sector privacy legislation.

In an effort to address knowledge gaps and to provide guidance for the development of privacy policy and best practices, this year's Program will focus on the following key priority areas:

  • The protection of personal health information
  • Strategies for making individuals more aware of their privacy rights. Do we need more consumer friendly privacy policies? Do organizations need to do a better job of disseminating their policies?
  • The professionalization of privacy specialists—what requirements or standards exist and what processes are in place to accredit and certify these individuals?
  • The storage and retention of personal information—the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act requires that information only be retained as long as necessary to fulfill the stated purposes. What does this mean in practical terms and how should this requirement be assessed?
  • Aspects of surveillance:
  • New technologies: What does the public comprehend about the collection, use, and transmission of personal data generated from new technology?
  • What use is made of transactional data generated by retail transactions, telecommunications devices, or video surveillance?
  • Workplace surveillance
  • The tracking of individuals’ interactions with the Internet

The Office will also consider requests to fund research on issues that fall outside the priority areas.

According to Michael Geist, a leading privacy expert and member of the Office's External Advisory Committee, the continuation of the Contributions Program will advance and foster the promotion and understanding of privacy rights of Canadians.

“There is an increased burden on us to be aware of threats to our privacy before they become realized. Research projects funded through this Program will go a long way in promoting greater knowledge,” said Mr. Geist.

Professor Geist is a law professor at the University of Ottawa where he holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce law. He is also a nationally syndicated columnist on technology law issues and the author of the Canadian Privacy Law Review.

Organizations that are eligible for funding under the Program include not-for profit organizations, such as educational institutions and industry and trade associations, as well as consumer, voluntary and advocacy organizations.

The maximum amount that can be awarded for any single research project is $50,000. Organizations are eligible to receive funding for only one project.

Projects must be completed within the fiscal year in which the funding was provided. The deadline to submit applications is May 5, 2006.

Links to the projects completed under the previous Contributions Programs are available on the OPC Web site at

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada is mandated by Parliament to act as an ombudsman, advocate and guardian of the privacy and protection of personal information rights of Canadians.

No comments: