On May 21, 2019, the Canadian federal government released a proposed Digital Charter (the "Charter"), as well as an initial set of actions and recommendations intended to implement the Charter's ten principles.
The Charter, which does not yet have the power of law, is a product of ongoing national consultation and committee hearings regarding a proposed overhaul of Canadian privacy and data protection laws.
The Charter is intended to respond to the continued impact of the digital revolution on Canadians' lives and the economy. A strong theme throughout the Charter and the government's accompanying announcement is the balancing of technological innovation and economic advancement with Canadians' trust and confidence regarding the collection, use and disclosure of their personal information in this digital age.
The Charter's Ten Principles
The proposed Charter would implement the following ten principles, against which government policies, legislation and initiatives would be measured:
- Universal Access - the equal opportunity to participate in the digital world and the necessary tools to do so, including access, connectivity, literacy and skills;
- Safety and Security - the ability to rely on the integrity, authenticity and security of the services Canadians use, and the right to feel safe online;
- Control and Consent - the control over what personal data one shares, who uses that personal data, and for what purposes;
- Transparency, Portability and Interoperability - clear and manageable access to one's personal data and the freedom to share or transfer that data without undue burden;
- Open and Modern Digital Government - the ability to access modern digital services from the government that are secure and simple to use;
- A Level Playing Field - ensuring fair competition in the online marketplace to facilitate economic growth and development while protecting Canadian consumers from market abuses;
- Data and Digital for Good - ensuring the ethical use of data to create value, promote openness and improve the lives of people in Canada and worldwide;
- Strong Democracy - defending freedom of expression and protecting against online threats and disinformation designed to undermine the integrity of elections and democratic institutions;
- Free from Hate and Violent Extremism - the right to expect digital platforms that will not foster or disseminate hate, violent extremism or criminal content; and
- Strong Enforcement and Real Accountability - clear and meaningful penalties for violations of the laws and regulations that support the Charter's principles.