Today is Privacy Day. It also marks my last Privacy Day as the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario. As my term comes to an end, my thoughts turn to the accomplishments of the last five years and the challenges that lay before us.
My first task on being appointed commissioner was to set a course for the future. I asked my staff to help develop a new strategic vision and set of values that would underpin our work: respect, integrity, fairness, collaboration, and excellence. With that, we established three key objectives: focus on Ontario, enhance our tribunal services, and work with our public sector partners to help them better understand Ontario’s access and privacy laws and how to apply them. I’m proud of our many achievements related to these goals over the last five years.
As I look to the future, I see a world increasingly reliant on technologies fueled by the collection and sharing of personal information. Ontario’s out-dated privacy laws, written over three decades ago, cannot keep pace with the rapid emergence of smart cities, big data, and the ever-growing arsenal of data-hungry apps and services. Ontario’s public institutions and health care providers are now adopting new technologies that promise greater efficiency and service delivery, but that also collect seemingly limitless amounts of personal information. The province must modernize its privacy laws to ensure that privacy rights continue to be protected in the face of the inherent risks presented by data-based technology. Ontarians should not be forced to trade their privacy for efficiency.
I want to thank my staff for the hard work and professionalism they exhibit every day as they meet the never-ending demands on our office. I’m confident they’ll continue to meet the challenges presented to them with fairness and integrity. Their dedication to the values and goals we set together five years ago strengthened the foundation on which we continue to build our expertise and ability to serve the people of Ontario.
Our commitment to excellence has made the IPC one of the most respected data protection agencies in the world, and I’m tremendously proud to have been a part of it.