The appointment of a new Privacy Commissioner of Canada has created a great deal of press over the past few days. Leaving aside the “who”, why should Canadians care about this role? Having federal and provincial privacy commissioners is important. In our data sharing obsessed world, privacy is becoming harder and harder to maintain. The Privacy Commissioner of Canada is charged with advocating for and protecting our privacy rights. His or her powers include investigating complaints into privacy breaches, publicly reporting on how our personal information is handled by public and private sector organizations and promoting public awareness and understanding of privacy issues. Fulfilling that mandate often means telling various levels of government where they have breached privacy rights. To do that, privacy commissioners need to be independent of the governments who appoint them.
Our privacy rights do matter – and so does having someone to ensure that it is respected by all levels of government.