On Tuesday, September 19, the Standing Committee on Industry and Technology (INDU) held its first meeting since Parliament returned from summer recess. During the meeting, members indicated that the committee expects to commence its study of Bill C-27, the Digital Charter Implementation Act, on Tuesday, September 26.
What is Bill C-27?
If passed, Bill C-27 will significantly modernize Canadian privacy law and introduce federal legislation governing AI systems in Canada. The bill proposes three new acts:
- The Consumer Privacy Protection Act (CPPA)
- The Personal Information and Data Protection Tribunal Act (PIDPTA)
- The Artificial Intelligence and Data Act (AIDA)
INDU is expected to undertake an extensive study of Bill C-27, and is likely to consider a range of amendments to the bill.
AIDA, in particular, is likely to be the subject of considerable attention as Parliamentarians and stakeholders consider the significant impact that the legislation would have on the development and deployment of AI systems in Canada. AIDA would prohibit certain conduct in relation to AI systems that may result in serious harm to individuals or harm to their interests, and regulate international and interprovincial trade and commerce in AI systems by establishing common requirements applicable across Canada.
The committee will also consider the significant privacy law reforms proposed in Bill C-27 through the CPPA and PIDPTA. The CPPA would replace Part 1 of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) which pertains to the protection of personal information in the private sector. PIDPTA would establish an administrative tribunal for appeals of certain decisions made by the Privacy Commissioner of Canada under the CPPA. The CPPA would also impose penalties on organizations that contravene the CPPA.
Primer on Committee Study
As it undertakes its study of Bill C-27, INDU is charged with examining the wording and effect of each clause of the bill. It may propose any amendments that it deems necessary or useful in order for the bill to better realize its purpose. However, the committee cannot seek to extend the scope of the bill or alter its principle, which the House of Commons approved by passing the bill at Second Reading.
The committee will hear from witnesses, who will appear before the committee, provide remarks, and answer questions from committee members. The sponsor of the bill, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry François-Philippe Champagne, is likely to be among the first witnesses to appear before the committee and provide testimony. At the conclusion of testimony from all witnesses, the committee may invite Minister Champagne to appear again in order to answer any concerns which were raised by other witnesses. INDU is also likely to hear from the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Philippe Dufresne, early in its consideration of the bill. Other witnesses will likely include officials, industry stakeholders, and subject matter experts who may assist the committee's study.
The committee may also receive written briefs related to Bill C-27, which are submitted to the Clerk and published on the committee's website.
Following testimony from witnesses, the committee will proceed to clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-27. Clause-by-clause study involves the committee considering each clause of the bill individually. If necessary, the committee may consider each separate line of the bill as well. Committee members will propose amendments to the bill during clause-by-clause consideration. The clause-by-clause stage is usually assisted by departmental officials, who appear as witnesses to assist the committee with technical aspects of the bill.
Once INDU completes its clause-by-clause study of Bill C-27, the committee will adopt a motion instructing the Chair to report the bill to the House of Commons along with any amendments made by the committee.
There is no set time limit for the consideration of government bills in committee. INDU is expected to complete an extensive study of Bill C-27, including hearing from a sizeable list of witnesses, and the process will likely take a number of weeks.