New Digital Charter launched by Canadian Government

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Today, during an address to the Empire Club of Canada, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, launched Canada’s new Digital Charter.

Minister Bains also announced an initial set of actions that will serve to implement the Charter’s principles, highlighted by proposals to modernize the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), which governs the use of data and personal information by private entities. Additional actions will be announced in the coming days.

With Canada’s Digital Charter, the Government is laying the foundation for modernising the rules that govern the digital sphere in Canada and rebuilding Canadians’ trust in these institutions. The Charter outlines what Canadians can expect from the Government in relation to the digital landscape, addressing important issues like universal access and hate online.

The Digital Charter contains the following 10 principles, against which all future government policies, programs and legislation will be tested:

  1. Universal Access
    • All Canadians will have equal opportunity to participate in the digital world and the necessary tools to do so, including access, connectivity, literacy and skills.
  2. Safety and Security
    • Canadians will be able to rely on the integrity, authenticity and security of the services they use and should feel safe online.
  3. Control and Consent
    • Canadians will have control over what data they are sharing, who is using their personal data and for what purposes, and know that their privacy is protected.
  4. Transparency, Portability and Interoperability
    • Canadians will have clear and manageable access to their personal data and should be free to share or transfer it without undue burden.
  5. Open and Modern Digital Government
    • Canadians will be able to access modern digital services from the Government of Canada, which are secure and simple to use.
  6. A Level Playing Field
    • The Government of Canada will ensure fair competition in the online marketplace to facilitate the growth of Canadian businesses and affirm Canada’s leadership on digital and data innovation, while protecting Canadian consumers from market abuses.
  7. Data and Digital for Good
    • The Government of Canada will ensure the ethical use of data to create value, promote openness and improve the lives of people – at home and around the world.
  8. Strong Democracy
    • The Government of Canada will defend freedom of expression and protect against online threats and disinformation designed to undermine the integrity of elections and democratic institutions.
  9. Free From Hate and Violent Extremism
    • Canadians can expect that digital platforms will not foster or disseminate hate, violent extremism or criminal content.
  10. Strong Enforcement and Real Accountability
    • There will be clear, meaningful penalties for violations of the laws and regulations that support these principles.

As a part of his announcement, Minister Bains revealed that he and the Government of Canada have taken, or will be taking, the following actions to implement the principles of the Digital Charter:

  • Introduce policy proposals reforming Canada’s private sector privacy law, PIPEDA.
  • Minister Bains has written to the head of the Competition Bureau to ensure that the bureau has the tools necessary to promote competition and create a healthy environment, especially for small business, so they can continue to innovate.
  • With the advice of the new Canadian Statistics Advisory Council, Minister Bains will undertake a review of the Statistics Act to ensure Canadians can trust the way their data is handled by the National Statistical Agency.
  • The Standards Council of Canada will launch a new Data Governance Standardization Collaborative to better coordinate the development and compatibility of data governance standards in Canada.
  • The Government of Canada will update the Privacy Act, and examine frameworks for open banking, all consistent with the principles under the Digital Charter.

Canada’s Digital Charter, informed by the National Digital and Data Consultations, is the next phase of the Plan. It builds on the commitment made by Prime Minister Trudeau to join the Christchurch Call to Action, first announced in Paris on May 15, alongside French President Emmanuel Macron and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, among other world leaders.

 

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