OPC Consultations on Online Tracking (2011)

In 2010, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada initiated consultations on privacy issues related to developing internet-related technologies:  "Tracking, Profiling and Targeting", and "Cloud Computing". The OPC sought comment on the deployment of these technologies and their implications for individuals, organizations, and businesses. CIPPIC offered two submissions: one focusing on geolocational technologies and their use in targeted advertising, and a second addressing cloud computing more generally.

The OPC released an interim Draft report on its consultation process that synthesizes, analyzes and comments on many of the submissions and discussions that formed the basis of these two consultations. CIPPIC, along with other parties, offered detailed comments on this draft report, addressing issues such as online tracking, privacy issues raised by user interface design and 'privacy by effort' approaches, the importance of preserving online anonymity, and identity management. In its comments, CIPPIC critiqued the existing 'free for all' that is the reality in the context of online tracking, where users have little awareness and less control over who tracks them, when, or for what purpose. CIPPIC's comments additionally criticized the excessive effort a privacy sensitive individual must take in todays online environment merely to maintain an 'equal' level of privacy. Further comments were offered on the importance of anonymity as a concept for preserving privacy online and the threats the ability to act anonymously faces and on various identity management systems and the potential hazards/benefits of each. The final report was released in May of 2011.