ISED launches Digital Charter aimed at building “foundation of trust”

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Min. Navdeep Bains unveiled the new Digital Charter during an address Tuesday at the Empire Club of Canada.

The Liberal government has officially unveiled a new Digital Charter aimed at laying out a path forward to safely manage Canadians’ data, while balancing an increasingly data-driven innovation economy.

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Min. Navdeep Bains launched the set of 10 principles during an address Tuesday at the Empire Club of Canada in Toronto.

Aimed at building “a foundation of trust for Canadians in the digital sphere”, the actions include proposals to modernize the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), which governs the use of data and personal information by private entities.

“Canadians’ trust in the digital world is shaken. But in this new age, Canada’s competitiveness will depend on our ability to use digital innovation to harness the power of data,” said Bains in a release. “Canada’s Digital Charter and its 10 principles set the foundation to rebuild Canadians’ trust and empower them to reach their full innovative and economic potential. We are building a Canada where citizens have confidence that their data is safe and privacy is respected, unlocking the kind of innovation that builds a strong economy that works for everyone.”

The 10 principles of the charter include:

1. Universal Access

All Canadians will have equal opportunity to participate in the digital world and the necessary tools to do so, including access, connectivity, literacy and skills.

2. Safety and Security

Canadians will be able to rely on the integrity, authenticity and security of the services they use and should feel safe online.

3. Control and Consent

Canadians will have control over what data they are sharing, who is using their personal data and for what purposes, and know that their privacy is protected.

4. Transparency, Portability and Interoperability

Canadians will have clear and manageable access to their personal data and should be free to share or transfer it without undue burden.

5. Open and Modern Digital Government

Canadians will be able to access modern digital services from the Government of Canada, which are secure and simple to use.

6. A Level Playing Field

The Government of Canada will ensure fair competition in the online marketplace to facilitate the growth of Canadian businesses and affirm Canada’s leadership on digital and data innovation, while protecting Canadian consumers from market abuses.

7. Data and Digital for Good

The Government of Canada will ensure the ethical use of data to create value, promote openness and improve the lives of people—at home and around the world.

8. Strong Democracy

The Government of Canada will defend freedom of expression and protect against online threats and disinformation designed to undermine the integrity of elections and democratic institutions.

9. Free from Hate and Violent Extremism

Canadians can expect that digital platforms will not foster or disseminate hate, violent extremism or criminal content.

10. Strong Enforcement and Real Accountability

There will be clear, meaningful penalties for violations of the laws and regulations that support these principles.

The Digital Charter builds on the commitment made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to join the Christchurch Call to Action, which calls for the elimination of extreme content online. First announced in Paris on May 15, alongside French President Emmanuel Macron and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, among other world leaders, the call outlines collective, voluntary commitments from Governments and online service providers to prevent the abuse of the internet as occurred in and after the Christchurch attacks.

It’s unlikely the proposed digital reforms will become law before this fall’s federal election.


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