Face-to-face with the privacy commissioner

It was an event many CMA Members had waited for with bated breath -- a face-to-face with the country's federal privacy commissioner. The Sept. 24 sold-out CMA event delivered the promised update on private sector privacy law enforcement actions, and a list of upcoming priorities for the commissioner’s office (OPC). It was also a chance to ask questions -- and many did just that.

Key updates

  • A recent global sweep found that two-thirds of the websites and apps examined collected children’s personal information and half of them shared that information with third parties.
  • A report on online interest-based advertising indicated that industry self-regulation generally works well. The good news -- 96% of targeted ads offered proper notice and an opt-out option. The bad news -- there were 34 examples of ads targeted based on sensitive topics without opt-in consent.
  • Following industry consultations conducted in early 2015, the commissioner highlighted two key issues that he’s looking to address among others: reviewing the consent model in the age of Big Data, IoT and the mobile environment; and ensuring that privacy policies are not too long and legalistic. The commissioner assured marketers that consideration will be given to ensure that innovation is not stifled by the regulatory regime.

Key takeaways

  • Interest-based advertising best practices: The commissioner commended the launch of the industry’s Ad Choices program but he also emphasized that sensitivity remains a key consideration for organizations deciding between opt-in vs. opt-out consent when collecting personal data.
  • Leveraging privacy:  An OPC survey identified that 81% of Canadians would choose to do business with a company specifically because it has good privacy practices. Beyond abiding by the law, organizations can leverage privacy and data protection as key drivers of their marketing efforts.
  • Industry consultations: A discussion paper will be released by the OPC in 2016 which will tackle some of the issues identified during the industry consultations discussed above. The paper is anticipated to address how to enhance the privacy protection and trust of individuals through regulation, and ways of improving consent models. CMA will be involved in the proposed consultations following the release of this document.

Note: If your organization is involved in interest-based advertising, you need to ensure that you provide consumers with clear notice and an easy opt-out opportunity. Most important, avoid targeting based on sensitive topics. CMA encourages participation in the self-regulatory Ad Choices program as part of an overall privacy toolkit to demonstrate your commitment to consumer privacy rights.  See CMA blog for more information on OBA and consent.

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Tags: Consumer Privacy, Marketing to Children, Online Behavioural Advertising, Privacy