Alberta has been a leader in privacy legislation in Canada, including being one of only 3 Canadian provinces to have its own private sector privacy law.
That said, a lot has changed since Alberta’s legislation came into force. The introduction of the internet, for one. Alberta’s government, like other governments across Canada and around the world, recognizes the need to align its privacy protections with the realities of today’s rapidly evolving digital world.
Our government has been reviewing our legislation with this in mind. Not only does Alberta’s legislation pre-date modern technologies – the last time the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) Act was updated, smartphones had not been invented yet – it pre-dates the internet. Simply put, our current privacy protections are inadequate for today’s modern world.
Any amendments to Alberta’s privacy legislation must centre on 2 core principles: strengthening privacy protections and building trust.
In order to strengthen privacy protections and build trust, there are 2 practices that must be employed: privacy-by-design and ethics-by-design. To most Albertans, these are likely new terms, but in world of technology, they are the gold standard for innovation.
The principle of privacy-by-design means that, for any technology or process, privacy considerations are evaluated at every stage of engineering and design. In a world where new technologies and data-driven innovations are rapidly transforming our daily lives, it is critically important that our privacy legislation provides clear guidelines and guardrails to ensure privacy is at the root of innovation.
The principle of ethics-by-design focusses more on why something is being designed and how it would be used, with the goals of ensuring more ethical principles in the process and supporting a more ethical society. In the context of digital technologies, data, and privacy, such ethical considerations are important to build trust and to respect individual rights.
As we consider future amendments to modernize and strengthen Alberta’s privacy legislation, privacy- and ethics-by-design principles must be at the root of everything we do. If we get that right, Albertans will have some of the best privacy protections in the country.
The benefits to Albertans are even more exciting.
As a former venture capital investor, I have seen how data-driven innovations solve problems in new and exciting ways in business, public services and healthcare. For example, in the United Kingdom, responsible use of data is improving healthcare delivery, therapeutic discovery and patient outcomes. There is incredible ingenuity in the world of technology, and we are only scratching the surface of what’s possible.
Technology is transforming the world and government must keep up. Modernizing and strengthening Alberta’s privacy legislation is a great way to ensure Albertans can safely enjoy the benefits of new technology and innovations in the years to come.