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Canada's Digital Charter: Trust in a digital world

From: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Building a foundation of trust

Digital technology is changing our economy and our society—the way we access information, work, and connect with each other. Data is now a resource that companies use to be more productive and to develop better products and services, unleashing a digital revolution around the world.

In this digital world, Canadians must be able to trust that their privacy is protected, that their data will not be misused, and that companies operating in this space communicate in a simple and straightforward manner with their users. This trust is the foundation on which our digital and data-driven economy will be built.

See Canada's Digital Charter and how the Government of Canada is building this foundation of trust and encouraging continued growth across our economy. It relies on governments, citizens and businesses working together to ensure that privacy is protected, data is kept safe, and Canadian companies can lead the world in innovations that fully embrace the benefits of the digital economy.

Digital Charter Implementation Act, 2020

In November 2020, the government proposed the Digital Charter Implementation Act, 2020, which would modernize the framework for the protection of personal information in the private sector. This legislation takes a number of important steps to ensure that Canadians will be protected by a modern and responsive law and that innovative businesses will benefit from clear rules, even as technology continues to evolve, including:

The 10 principles of the Charter

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.

The Charter in action

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What we heard during the National Digital and Data Consultations

Canada's Digital Charter is founded on ten principles that reflect what we have heard from Canadians, including during the National Digital and Data Consultations. Held between June and October 2018, the Consultations included 30 roundtable discussions hosted by Six Digital Innovation Leaders across the country, engaging with more than 550 Canadians. Through our website and online platforms, Canadians shared 1,900 ideas.

"In every industry today, Canadian businesses depend on data to compete and create value for their customers. But unlocking data's full economic and social potential requires trust and confidence in the marketplace and a clear set of rules for everyone. Today's announcement represents a step in the right direction to update Canada's data policies, and we're ready to work with the government to make sure we get them right."

— Goldy Hyder, President and CEO
Business Council of Canada

"Canadian privacy laws were drafted years before the emergence of a data-driven economy. These proposals seek to strike the balance between supporting an innovation-led economic agenda heavily reliant on access to data and mounting public concern over the use of that data without appropriate safeguards or consent. With requirements for algorithmic transparency, penalties for re-identifying anonymized data, and much-needed enforcement powers, the changes would constitute the most significant privacy law changes in decades."

— Michael Geist

"We support a principles-based approach that facilitates Canada's role as a data innovation leader while maintaining the trust of consumers. This is a key issue of our time, and we welcome the opportunity to collaborate with the federal government to ensure consumers are protected and businesses thrive."

— John Wiltshire, President and CEO, Canadian Marketing Association

"Innovation is a foundational component of our country's future success. The charter announced today will help Canadians ensure their data and privacy rights are protected, while also helping companies better compete in a digital economy. At Cadillac Fairview, we are introducing platforms and solutions that will help our retailers and brands compete more effectively on the world stage while also ensuring we continue to respect the data and privacy rights of Canadians. Adopting the framework announced by Minister Bains today will help us deliver against this strategy in a more meaningful way."

— Jose Ribau, Executive Vice President, Digital and Innovation, The Cadillac Fairview Corporation Ltd

"ITAC congratulates Minister Bains and ISED on today's announcement identifying the necessary steps to help drive a data-driven digital economy, and we look forward to working with ISED on the development of their White Paper on PIPEDA reforms."

"Canada can and must create a successful framework for data governance that drives economic growth, while also addressing Canadians' concerns regarding privacy and security measures."

"As technology continues to rapidly disrupt economies, we need to ensure Canadians have trust in the tech industry and that Canada continues to be a country of choice for global investors as well as a nation that supports innovation and our growing tech scale-ups."

"More than ever, I believe it is crucial that government and industry work together in a collaborative process but also with a results-driven approach to enable Canadian tech SMEs who want to use data to innovate and grow."

— Angela Mondou, President and CEO, Information Technology Association of Canada

"In today's digital economy, it is more important than ever for Canadians to know that their data is secure, and Telesat applauds the Government of Canada on the launch of the Digital Charter. Specifically, we are pleased to see that universal access to reliable, high-speed Internet is considered a key principle in the Charter, given the transformational impacts that connectivity brings to individuals and communities."

"Finally, Telesat is pleased to see that the government is taking a collaborative approach to data security that will protect Canadians and build trust, while empowering Canadian companies to continue to innovate and scale globally."

— Dan Goldberg, President and CEO, Telesat

"Canada has incredible growth potential in the digital and data economy that is already being realized. A modernized policy framework will enhance opportunities to collaborate and innovate to deliver more valuable data-driven solutions to Canadians."

— Sam Sebastian, President and CEO, Pelmorex Corp

"We applaud the government for leadership on this issue. We agree that consumer trust is the foundation required to promote innovation and competition in our country. A digital charter, we believe, is critical to help proactively guide our corporations, regulators and innovators alike in inspiring their future business plans, regulations and innovations with a consumer-first approach. This is an important step in improving access, transparency and competition in the financial service sector."

— Adam Felesky, CEO, Portag3 Ventures

"We applaud the Minister for his leadership. IBM has operated in Canada for more than a century and has always been committed to the responsible stewardship of technology and client data. IBM agrees with the government that industry and regulators need to work together to increase trust in the digital economy."

— Ayman Antoun, President, IBM Canada Ltd.

"Data innovation is changing the way we work and live; what we formerly viewed as traditional industries are now high tech, innovative industries. As the world of work constantly evolves, finding the right talent with the right skills and training at the right time remains one of the biggest challenges, and doing so is growing more difficult as industries adapt to new technologies and new ways of doing business. We are pleased to see in this digital charter a recognition of connecting all Canadians and an approach to the digital economy that recognizes the importance of small business and digital skills that is balanced with privacy and security."

— Scott Smith, Senior Director, Intellectual Property and Innovation Policy, Canadian Chamber of Commerce

"Our federal government has launched a first-ever Canadian Digital Charter to foster a trusted and interconnected digital economy, recognizing that our digital economy can only thrive if it takes a principled and pragmatic approach to privacy, one that is based on fairness, accountability, openness and transparency. Our digital highway needs private and secure channels for exchanging information to keep pace with modern society, allowing markets to thrive and deliver programs and services that will enrich the lives of many Canadians. Consumer choice and control have always been and will continue to be the expectation when it comes to respecting Canadians' personal data. Organizations that set themselves apart will be those that proactively build strong privacy and security measures into emerging technologies and every-day business practices, by design and default."

— Sylvia Kingsmill, Partner, National Lead, Privacy, Regulatory & Information Management Advisory, KPMG

"We applaud the Canadian Government for taking global leadership in data governance through its new Digital Charter for Canada. Data is amongst the most critical issues facing policy makers in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and we are delighted to be partnering with ISED to co-design innovative new policy approaches that maximize its social and economic benefits."

— Murat Sonmez, Head of Centre for the Fourth Industrial Network, WEF

"PayPal applauds Minister Bains and the Government of Canada for taking leadership on the important topic of data in the digital economy. PayPal has a responsibility to protect the privacy and security of our some of our customers' most sensitive personal financial information. Our customers trust us with this responsibility, and we take that trust seriously. We look forward to working with the Government and industry as the digital charter and its supporting measures are implemented."

— Paul Parisi, President, PayPal Canada

"The Internet brings many benefits to everyday Canadians, but it has increasingly been leveraged by a few large players to concentrate their economic power and influence. There is much work ahead to realize the principles in the Digital Charter, including critical principles to make the data-driven digital economy work for Canadians, such as trust, universal access, and fair competition. TekSavvy looks forward to working with the Government to develop measures that implement those principles, advancing consumer choice, net neutrality, and the privacy rights of Internet users."

— Janet Lo, Teksavvy

"CPA Canada welcomes the digital charter and its prioritization of the issue. As an active participant in the government's consultation effort, we recognize the difficult work involved in developing the charter. In this data-driven economy, information is power—but trust remains essential."

— Joy Thomas, President and CEO, CPA Canada

"The Financial Data and Technology Association of North America greatly appreciates the Prime Minister's and the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development's endorsement of the principle that consumers should be in the driver's seat when it comes to deciding how their data can be used. As the trade association of financial technology firms advocating for Open Banking, FDATA North America views the digital charter as a natural, broader extension of Open Banking: a strong data policy that enables consumers to access and share their own data in a way that benefits them, their communities and the economy more broadly."

— Steve Boms, Executive Director, Financial Data and Technology Association of North America

"… This announcement marks a historic moment for Canada in the borderless digital economy. The importance of the intellectual property of Canada, which includes raw and processed data of its citizens and companies, is now elevated to the right policy framework level. The thoughtful implementation of a data and IP strategy will ensure the future prosperity of generations of Canadians to come …"

— Hamid Arabzadeh, Chairman, President and CEO, RANOVUS

"BluWave-ai combines publicly available data with aggregate machine-level data from energy and utility partners to reduce the use of fossil fuels, help fight climate change, and drive down energy costs. We apply our distributed artificial intelligence software to make sense of aggregated data for renewable energy generation, city-wide power usage, real-time energy pricing, weather feeds, and community events. By focusing our analysis on public and aggregated data, we deliver value to all Canadians while also helping to mitigate any data privacy concerns."

— Devashish Paul, CEO and Founder, BluWave-ai

"Being a leader in the data-driven economy is key to Canadians' quality of life and economic prosperity. CWTA welcomes the Government of Canada's Digital Charter and looks forward to engaging with government, industry and private citizens to ensure that Canada leads the way in digital competitiveness, innovation and trust."

— Eric Smith, Vice President, Regulatory Affairs, Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association

"Creating a legal approach to data governance is critical to building trust in the innovation economy. The digital charter announced today will provide a forum for continuous discussion and decisions about what is in the public interest and create measures that will help set standards for technology firms and policy-makers to follow. There are real benefits to collecting and sharing anonymized data, and real oversight will provide a positive counterweight to corporations trying to profit from the data or governments overstepping the mark on surveillance."

— Yung Wu, CEO, MaRS Discovery District

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