Bill C-27 – CMA was in the room where it happened

Sep 28, 2023
Advocacy Privacy

The CMA was present in Ottawa on Tuesday when Parliament’s Industry Committee (INDU Committee) began its study of Bill C-27. The bill proposes to reform Canada’s private sector privacy law and to create Canada’s first-ever legislation to govern high-impact AI.

Being in the room enabled us to speak informally to MPs and government officials, many of whom we have met with on multiple occasions, to express support for the bill and indicate the urgent need to move forward on long-overdue privacy law reform.

The minister who tabled the bill, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, was the first witness to appear. He indicated that the government will be introducing amendments on both aspects of the bill, as outlined below.

Amendments to the proposed Consumer Privacy Protection Act:

  • Recognize a fundamental right to privacy for Canadians.
  • Better recognize and strengthen the protection of information concerning minors.
  • Give the Privacy Commissioner more powers, including greater flexibility to reach compliance agreements with companies to allow quicker resolution of matters without triggering the Tribunal or courts.

Amendments to the proposed Artificial Intelligence and Data Act:

  • Better define classes of systems and activities that will be considered high impact.
  • Include specific obligations for general purpose AI systems that are available for public use and can interpret a wide variety of information and generate text and images.
  • More clearly differentiate the AI value chain (e.g., for those that develop AI systems versus those that manage and deploy AI systems).
  • Strengthen and clarify the role of the AI and Data Commissioner, including enabling the Commissioner to better share information and cooperate with other regulators.
  • Align better with frameworks in other major jurisdictions, such as the EU AI Act, so that key definitions and requirements are more easily interoperable.

Opposition members were supportive of the direction of the amendments but are requesting that specific wording be put forward for consideration.

The hearings continued on Thursday with an appearance by federal Privacy Commissioner Philippe Dufresne. The Commissioner’s remarks were consistent with his public statements over the past year. He said that Bill C-27 is a step in the right direction but must go farther to protect Canadian's fundamental right to privacy while supporting the public interest and encouraging innovation. He also referred to several of the recommendations contained in his written submission to the Committee.

The Commissioner is expected to be invited back to the hearings in the near future so that he can respond to questions from Committee members.

The CMA will continue to meet with MPs from all parties, and with government officials, to advocate for amendments that will enable marketers to leverage data to provide value to consumers while effectively protecting their privacy.

We look forward to discussing issues related to consent with the Commissioner when he joins us for a fireside chat on Getting Consent Right at our October 12 event Building Trust as Technology Transforms. The same event will feature panels on ethical considerations and emerging best practices in the use of AI, and what marketers need to know about changes to Quebec and federal privacy rules.

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Sara Clodman

Vice-President, Public Affairs and Thought Leadership Canadian Marketing Association




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