Privacy Advisor

Privacy Commissioner of Canada Awards $388,319 for Research on Privacy Issues

August 1, 2006

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Jennifer Stoddart, announced that 11 organizations will be awarded a total of $388,319 through her Office's Contributions Program for research into emerging privacy issues, including surveillance technologies, privacy policies aimed at children and the use of DNA in the criminal justice system.

"The rapid advancements of technology and greater demands for personal information make it imperative for Canadians to be provided with sound analysis of privacy challenges and issues," said Stoddart, who will be a keynote speaker at the IAPP's Privacy Academy 2006, Oct. 17-20. "The research carried out through our Contributions Program is helping to create a stronger privacy knowledge base and to foster public dialogue."

This is the third year that the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) has run its Contributions Program since its launch in mid-2004. The Program was designed to support non-profit research that furthers the development of a national research capacity in Canada in the broad spectrum of issues impacting privacy. Research under this year's Program will touch on a variety of other interesting topics, including the certification of privacy professionals, digital rights management technology, health privacy and the de-identification of personal information. This is the largest amount of funding that has been awarded to researchers in the Program's history and twice as many institutions are being funded in comparison with last year.

"There is a great deal of untapped Canadian expertise with respect to privacy rights. The OPC's Contributions Program provides stimulation for ideas to thrive, and new knowledge to be generated," said Professor Michael Geist of the University of Ottawa and Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce law. Professor Geist is also a member of the OPC's External Advisory Committee.

The Contributions Program has awarded more than $900,000 since its inception. Each proposal is weighed for its merit and contribution recipients are selected after a rigorous screening process. These projects are expected to be completed in 2007. Links to the reports are made available on the OPC's Web site and also may be profiled at the 2007 International Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners Conference, which is taking place in Montreal in September 2007.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada is mandated by Parliament to act as an ombudsman, advocate and guardian of privacy rights of Canada.

Winners of Privacy Research Contributions Program Funding

Canadian Association for Professional Access and Privacy Administrators and the Canadian Access and Privacy Association
Location: Edmonton, AB and Ottawa, ON
Funding Amount: $50,000
Project: Professional Certifications Standards Project
(CAPAPA) and the Canadian Access and Privacy Association (CAPA) will evaluate the wide range of options and issues that must be considered in order to develop and implement a process for certifying privacy professionals.
The ultimate objective is to develop and establish a certification process.

Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic
Location: Ottawa, ON
Funding Amount: $50,000
Project: Digital Rights Management Technologies and Consumer Privacy: A Canadian Market Survey and Privacy Impact Assessment
Under this project, the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic
(CIPPIC) will assess the use of content control technologies in the Canadian marketplace, and the implications of the use of such technologies on the privacy rights of Canadians. They will examine the digital rights management's
(DRM) compliance with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), Canada's private sector privacy law.

University of Toronto
Location: Toronto, ON
Funding Amount: $50,000
Project: Visions for Canada: Identity Policy Projections and Policy Alternatives
The University of Toronto researchers will investigate a number of identity initiatives that will have an impact on policy in Canada, from the current Smart Border Agreement, to plans for the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative and Passport Canada's launch of an e-passport. The project will attempt to reconcile the need to achieve the goals of those pushing for these identity reforms with the need to minimize harm to citizens, by applying data protection principles.

University of Western Ontario
Location: London, ON
Funding Amount: $49,059
Project: Strategies for Drafting Privacy Policies Kids Can Understand
Children and teens are participating online in ever-increasing numbers, many times without direct parental supervision. This project examines the privacy policies encountered by Canadian children and youth on the sites they frequent.
The overall aim of this project will be to identify a set of principles that can be used to draft consumer-friendly privacy policies that promote the best possible understanding of the privacy decisions Canadian children and teens are making when they surf the Internet.

Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario
Location: Ottawa, ON
Funding Amount: $45,000
Project: The Development of Pan-Canadian De-Identification Guidelines for Personal Health Information
De-identifying personal information on health records can help doctors and health researchers exchange personal information about people without compromising their privacy. Proper de-identification requires that identifying variables and quasi identifiers that can be used for identification through record linkage should be removed.
The purpose of this research project to be undertaken by the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario is to measure the risk of re-identification after information has been de-identified, and to produce de-identification guidelines, with a web support tool that enables the de-identification of data sets.

Memorial University of Newfoundland
Location: St. John's NFLD
Funding Amount: $44,850
Project: Technology Choices and Privacy Policy in Health Care
The purpose of this project by Memorial University is to examine and report on the influence of technology choices on policy development, as well as the influence of policy choices on technology development with respect to privacy in the health care sector.
This three-phased project will first involve conducting a survey of privacy related technologies relevant to the health care sector. The next phase will involve examining the legislative and regulatory regime to determine technology models or assumptions that are inherent in existing regulatory structures. The final step will be to examine the deployment of privacy technologies in the health care information sector.

Automobile Consumer Coalition
Location: Toronto, ON
Funding Amount: $30,900
Project: Vehicle Technology and Consumer Privacy
This project by the Automobile Consumer Coalition will examine the major issues related to personal privacy raised by the rapidly evolving technologies found in modern vehicles.
Research will include an examination of peer reviewed journals, technical publications, and the general media; on-site visits to locations where the relevant technology is installed or operating; and interviews with privacy experts or representatives from the law enforcement, legal and business communities.

Centre for Bioethics, Clinical Research Institute of Montreal
Location: Montréal, QC
Funding Amount: $24,200
Project: The Secondary Uses of Health Information and Electronic Medical
Records: Current Debates, Policies, Initiatives and Legislation in Canada and Abroad
The goal of this project by the Centre for Bioethics at the Clinical Research Institute of Montreal is to inventory the challenges to privacy posed by electronic health records. The analysis will be done from the perspective of secondary uses of this personal information, and how these uses can have an impact on privacy protection. The project will cover policies, initiatives and laws in Canada and abroad.

L'Union des consommateurs
Location: Montréal, QC
Funding Amount: $22,000
Project: Do Consumers Benefit From the Trading of Personal Information?
Consumers frequently encounter clauses that grant businesses the right to use their personal information for their commercial purposes. This study by L'Union des consommateurs will examine if consumers benefit from the collection of their information, and it will also examine if privacy laws adequately protect the consumer.

University of Ottawa
Location: Ottawa, ON
Funding Amount: $11,960
Project:  Privacy Within the Criminal Justice System: DNA Investigation
This project by the University of Ottawa will explore the handling of DNA samples from the time they are collected in the course of an investigation, to their use in judicial proceedings. The study will also attempt to document the principal issues surrounding the control of DNA samples collected in the course of an investigation. These researchers were funded through last year's Contributions Program to examine the social uses of DNA samples and its repercussions in the criminal justice system.

Ryerson University
Location: Toronto, ON
Funding Amount: $10,350
Project: Under the Radar? The Employer Perspective on Workplace Privacy
Ryerson University will disseminate the results of a report on workplace privacy funded through the OPC's Contributions Program last year. This will include a one-day workshop hosted by Ryerson University in the fall of 2006 to discuss the results of the project and a framework for workplace privacy to appeal to all Canadians.