Privacy & Data Governance Congress Highlights Data Privacy And Security Concerns

Canada bans TikTok on government phones. What's next?

Cyber security Pixabay TheDigitalArtist

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On March 22–23, Canadian regulatory agencies and data and access security industry representatives will meet in Ottawa at the Privacy and Data Governance Congress to gain insights into the field of data access and security.

This comes soon after the issue of social media users’ privacy and national security came to the fore in Canada. By last month, all provincial governments had given notice of a total ban of China’s TikTok app from all government-issued devices. Ontario Treasury Board president Prabmeet Sarkaria, for example, said he took this “pro-active and precautionary approach” in order to protect government networks and data.

The congress will feature some of the most prominent figures in the Canadian government and wider media and focus on the interplay of privacy, security, access, technology and law. Sponsored by the Privacy and Access Council of Canada (PACC), the congress is billed as an opportunity for the public and private sectors, including industry, regulators, and academia to network in a participatory format to hear from industry leaders on protecting privacy and data.

According to a statement from R. Kyle Friesen, General Counsel to the Surrey Police Service of British Columbia, the congress is a “great opportunity to explore important issues in privacy and access.”

Friesen, a former legal advisor to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), added that the congress has “developed a full agenda of topics that will be of interest to anyone concerned about the past, present and future of privacy, access and security.  As a long-time PACC member, I am pleased to join the conference faculty as a speaker, and to network with the leading lights in Canada in our discussions of these issues.” Friesen has also held positions in the Information and Privacy Branch of the provincial government of British Columbia.

Keynote speakers include noted journalist and historian Edwin Black. In War Against the Weak, Black chronicles American philanthropies’ launching of eugenics and ethnic cleansing that helped found and fund the Nazi genocide. In IBM and the Holocaust, he documents the corporation’s complicity in genocide by creating technologies used by the Nazis to automate their war efforts and genocide. His talk is titled “It began with a privacy breach and ended with Auschwitz.”

In the past, Black has also warned about possible invasion of privacy by tech giants such as Facebook, and their influence in politics.

In advance of his appearance, he said: "The 2023 Privacy and Data Governance Congress, convening in Ottawa, promises to unveil astonishing and frightening developments in privacy concerns, including over-the-horizon insights about where our world is going unless checked. Undoubtedly, it will be remembered for some time to come."

Another keynote speaker is Canadian Privacy Commissioner Philippe Dufresne. A former chief legal officer of the House of Commons, he led the team drafting drafted legislation and legal briefs. He is also a former Senior General Counsel to the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

In the past, officials from local, provincial, and federal government have attended the annual congress, as have representatives from prominent Canadian law firms and businesses. These included Shell Canada, Exxon/Imperial Oil, RCMP, Treasury Board of Canada, and the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia.

The congress is sponsored by Privacy and Access Council of Canada, an independent, non-profit group. According to its website, it is the certifying body for the certification of professionals in the field of access and privacy, and dedicated to “the development and promotion of the access-to-information, information privacy, and data governance profession” in the private, non-profit and public sectors.

Attendees can receive Continuing Professional Development credits towards degrees in the field, and continuing legal professional development.

Sponsors include several government entities involved in data security, such as the Information and Privacy Commissioners  of Alberta, Northwest Territories, Ontario, Quebec, and Yukon. Other sponsors include the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, law firms, and universities.

According to its website, PACC is an advisory body to the industry and government, and helps its members by “giving voice to issues that affect members and the profession,” while upholding the “highest standards of practice” and promoting “ethical and sound privacy, access, and data governance practices, policies, and legislation.”

Topic tags:
Canada Edwin Black United States data security Civil Rights Law