10. Fostering open dialogue and providing publicly accessible guidance

CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

The Privacy Commissioner could be given additional powers to provide the public with information and guidance on what the Privacy Act requires and how it is enforced

Openness about the operation of the Privacy Act and how it is enforced is important. All key participants in the system – the public, federal public bodies, and the Privacy Commissioner – benefit when clear information about what the Act requires and how it is enforced is widely available.

The Privacy Act could provide the Privacy Commissioner with the authority to engage in public education, as the Commissioner does under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. The Act could also provide the Commissioner with the power to issue guidance on the interpretation and enforcement of the Act, while ensuring that the Commissioner consults with the Government when developing such guidance. 

The Privacy Commissioner could also be given the discretion to issue, on request, a non-binding opinion on what position or interpretation the Commissioner would adopt when assessing compliance with the Privacy Act in an investigation. Additionally, the Commissioner could be allowed to provide federal public bodies with a “regulatory sandbox” environment, which would allow them to test (with the Commissioner) whether novel activities would satisfy the Act or could be improved to address potential issues relating to the protection of personal information.  

The Privacy Commissioner could also be empowered to disclose more information in the public interest, including decisions on processing access requests and the outcomes of complaint investigations, while ensuring the protection of confidential and sensitive information. 

For additional details and a more in-depth discussion on the rationale for these potential changes, please consult our more detailed annex here

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