7. Allowing a greater role for “de-identified” personal information

21 days ago
CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

Federal public bodies could be provided with greater flexibility to use and disclose personal information that has undergone an established process for removing personal identifiers 

There is great promise for the use of de-identified personal information to allow federal public bodies to innovate in the public interest, while still protecting personal privacy. Despite some well-known anecdotes of de-identified personal information being subsequently re-identified, the use of de-identification as a privacy-enhancing technique is well supported, even by regulators. De-identification does not completely eliminate the risk of re-identification, but when done appropriately, it significantly reduces that risk. As such, a framework focussed on reducing risks by removing personal identifiers and protecting later uses of de-identified information would allow federal public bodies more flexibility to use data for public benefit, while minimizing risks to personal information. 

To create a greater incentive for federal public bodies to use and share de-identified personal information, instead of information that identifies individuals, the Act could:

  • Define “de-identified” personal information ;

  • Clarify that the process of de-identifying personal information is not a separate “use” of the information ;

  • Allow federal public bodies to use and disclose de-identified personal information in a greater variety of circumstances : The Act could allow federal public bodies to use or disclose de-identified personal information without consent where the information is used or shared in the public interest, where the information has been de-identified according to a process set out in regulations or Government policy, and where appropriate technical, administrative and/or contractual protections, which could vary depending on the context, have been applied to the de-identified information;

  • Create a specific offence for re-identifying personal information that has been de-identified, or for wilful attempts to do so. 
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