We are living in a time of tremendous transformation, and there are countless statistics that highlight the extent to which technologies are reshaping the way people live and connect. 90% of the world’s data has been created in the last two years, and there are five billion global mobile devices. The speed and scope of their impact is evolving and not yet completely understood.

In recognition of these changes, on Tuesday May 21st, Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains laid out ten principles of a new Digital Charter. These principles will help guide the federal government’s work, as Canada navigates the digital-first era.  

The Charter emphasizes Canadians’ control over their own personal information. Among action items is a plan to strengthen the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), the privacy law that governs private sector corporations. PIPEDA, which has not been updated since the early 2000s, is out of date with the new digital world and global privacy laws.

“The government will ensure fair competition in the online marketplace,” said Minister Bains. “We want to facilitate the growth of Canadian businesses and affirm Canada’s leadership on digital and data innovation, while protecting Canadian consumers from market abuses.”

The Charter’s action items are informed by Canadian opinions, voiced during the National Digital and Data Consultations. The Consultations identified various priorities, such as strengthening Canada’s innovation ecosystem and unlocking skills and talent. Overall, Canadians want more transparency in how their data is being collected and how it is being used.

Founded on a vision of building a community for the purpose of supporting three objectives: educating Canadians, connecting key players, and promoting Canadian innovations and organisations, IdentityNORTH has been exploring these topics for years. Convening leading identity and digital economy experts from Canada and around the world, the community has come together across the country to discuss the topics and issues most vital to our digital economy.

This is a pivotal time in our country’s history, as the conversations pertaining to our digital economy are happening now, on a bigger scale and in the mainstream media. IdentityNORTH offers a space to tackle these issues – examining success stories in Canada and around the world, and exploring new opportunities through a collaborative, privacy-first mindset.

IdentityNORTH events attract those working in digital identity and related fields from both the private and public sector, from industries including retail, health care and financial services. Because when it comes to digital identity, which touches almost all aspects of our online lives, we all need to have a seat at the table.

“IdentityNORTH applauds the government’s focus on privacy and trust and their call for greater transparency in privacy agreements and better models for consent on how our data is being used,” said Aran Hamilton, Co-Founder of IdentityNORTH.

For many Canadians, digital privacy seems to have moved from a small concern to a situation that seems impossible to solve. We don’t exactly know how we got here but we feel hopeless. We all need to have more say in managing our digital footprint and our digital relationships. Relationships are built on trust, and trust is built on transparency. At the heart of it, our Government is calling for better transparency and trust to support our new digital lives.”

At 2019 IdentityNORTH Annual Summit, the Charter was the focus of a panel discussion. Moderated by Pierre Roberge, Kathleen Fraser, Paul Grassi, and Joni Brennan explored consent management in Canada and around the world. All applauded the government-wide approach, and agreed that it is a big step forward for Canada.

“It’s going to put consent up front and centre and make consent management even more relevant,” Kathleen said, noting that we put the burden on people to try and comprehend complex data flows.

Joni agreed. “I think the charter raises awareness, and focuses our attention to digital as a community,” she said.  

“What’s happening in Canada is meaningful, and hopefully the U.S. will follow suit,” said Paul. “The more consumers are driving this, the more impactful it will be.

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