24 May 2019

Canada launches digital charter

Call to modernise legislation as charter promotes 10 principles aiming to build a foundation of trust for Canadians in the digital sphere.

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, minister of innovation, science and economic development, has launched Canada’s new Digital Charter. Mr Bains also announced an initial set of actions that will serve to implement the Charter’s principles, highlighted by proposals to modernize the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), which governs the use of data and personal information by private entities. Additional actions will be announced in the coming days.

Call to action

With Canada’s digital charter, the Government aims to lay the foundation for modernizing the rules governing the digital sphere in Canada and rebuilding trust in these institutions. The charter outlines what Canadians can expect from the Government in relation to the digital landscape, addressing important issues like universal access and hate online. The 10 principles also provide the framework for leadership in the digital and data-driven economy. Canada’s Digital Charter, informed by the National Digital and Data Consultations, is the next phase of the Plan. It builds on the commitment made by Prime Minister Trudeau to join the Christchurch Call to Action, first announced in Paris on May 15, alongside French President Emmanuel Macron and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, among other world leaders. More developments are to be announced, but the key ones to date are the charter, proposals to reform the PIPEDA ro enhance privacy protection, and the creation of a Canadian Statistics Advisory Council to provide advice on the relevance, quality and transparency of the national statistical system. Other moves include coordinating development and compatibility of data governance standards in Canada, a request to relevant bodies to collaborate on competition law, policy and practice to ensure that they keep pace with the dynamism of the marketplace.

Trust “shaken”

Mr Bains said, “Canadians’ trust in the digital world is shaken. But in this new age, Canada’s competitiveness will depend on our ability to use digital innovation to harness the power of data. Canada’s Digital Charter and its 10 principles set the foundation to rebuild Canadians’ trust and empower them to reach their full innovative and economic potential. We are building a Canada where citizens have confidence that their data is safe and privacy is respected, unlocking the kind of innovation that builds a strong economy that works for everyone.” According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, 89% of Canadians and 98% of businesses are online and 88% of Canadians use a mobile device. The recently announced Artificial Intelligence Advisory Council will be a central reference point for government to draw on leading artificial intelligence (AI) experts from Canadian business, academia, civil society and other partners so that we can realize the full economic and social benefits of AI that support ethical, human-centred uses of digital and data applications.

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