Federal government kicks off national consultations on data privacy and the digital economy

ISED is consulting with the public through roundtables and an interactive online tool

Navdeep Bains, Canada’s minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED), is kicking off a national consultation on the ways digital technology and a data-driven economy are affecting Canadians.

The national consultation on digital and data transformation will see roundtables and an online consultation created to “better understand how Canada can drive innovation, prepare Canadians for the future of work, and ensure they have trust and confidence in how their data is used.”

“Today, AI and big data are transforming all industries and sectors. They are presenting new opportunities for innovators to create jobs and generate prosperity,” said Bains in a linked statement.

“We have an opportunity to build a digital legacy for Canada and to become a global innovation leader. However, to spur digital innovation, investment and job creation in Canada, citizens must have trust and confidence that their data and privacy will be protected. This consultation is a first step in making this vision a reality.”

“To spur digital innovation, investment and job creation in Canada, citizens must have trust and confidence that their data and privacy will be protected” — Minister Navdeep Bains

The consultation is the next step in the federal government’s Innovation and Skills Plan, and comes at a time in which issues of today’s digital and data-driven economy are already at the fore of public discourse.

Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, among other personal data breaches, have led to a recent upswing in public scrutiny and uneasiness over the misuse of personal data by corporations.

Additionally, the government reported in its announcement that 87 percent of Canadians and 95 percent of Canadian businesses are connected to the internet. Further, 94 percent of Canadian businesses use personal data, and young Canadians are what Mark Zuckerberg might call “internet power users,” spending on average five hours a day on the internet.

The national digital and data consultation roundtables will be held in locations across the country, according to the government. The roundtables will be half-day discussions, moderated by digital innovation leaders, and will consist of groups of 20 to 25 participants “across business, academia, provinces, territories, social entrepreneurs, civil society, indigenous organizations, women entrepreneurs and youth.”

Meanwhile, the online consultation will take place through an interactive website that gives “Canadians across the country the opportunity to engage on digital and data issues.”

The consultation begins today, June 19th, and continues until mid-September, culminating in a “What We Heard Report” for Canadians in fall 2018.

Image by Wlodek via Pixabay.