Final reply of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunication Commission (CRTC)
In November 2008, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunication Commission (CRTC) initiated a public proceeding to review the Internet traffic management practices of Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
The CRTC called for written submissions in February 2009. The OPC welcomed the opportunity to contribute to the public discussion with respect to the protection of personal information on the Internet, and submitted comments.
As part of the review proceedings, the CRTC held public hearings from July 6 to 14 2009. All parties who submitted initial comments were invited to participate. Parties were also invited to submit a “final reply” to the proceedings by July 28th 2009. A final reply is intended to give the parties a last opportunity to address any issues raised during the proceedings. A final reply is also meant to ensure that the CRTC has the most complete record of relevant issues and evidence as possible upon which to ground any future policy direction, order or telecom decision relating to Internet traffic management.
The OPC’s submission and final reply are made pursuant to our legislative mandate to protect the privacy rights of individuals, foster public understanding of privacy, and promote the privacy protections available in Canada. Both OPC submissions to this proceeding are focused on the privacy implications about the potential uses of deep packet inspection (DPI) and more generally the crucial need – and growing expectation – of Canadians that their personal information is protected online.
From the reply:
8. According to Canadian telecommunications policy, the CRTC is required to safeguard the privacy of individuals and their communications. This policy is set out in paragraphs 7(a) and (i) of the Telecommunications Act:7
7. It is hereby affirmed that telecommunications performs an essential role in the maintenance of Canada’s identity and sovereignty and that the Canadian telecommunications policy has as its objectives
(a) to facilitate the orderly development throughout Canada of a telecommunications system that serves to safeguard, enrich and strengthen the social and economic fabric of Canada and its regions;
(i) to contribute to the protection of the privacy of persons.
9. During the Hearings, a number of parties to the proceeding took the position that they preferred that the CRTC refrain from regulating the Internet traffic management practices of ISPs with respect to privacy. In response, the Panel reminded the parties that, under the Act, the CRTC not only has statutory authority to protect privacy, but indeed, an express obligation to do so, reflecting the intention of Parliament in its enabling legislation.
10. Moreover, the CRTC is a specialized, decision-making, tribunal with recognized expertise over telecommunications matters.8 Bill C-27, the Electronic Commerce Protection Act (ECPA) currently before the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology is an example of Parliament recognizing the specific expertise of both the OPC and the CRTC over areas of overlapping concern.9 The CRTC has the institutional knowledge and experience to craft appropriate measures to encourage technological innovation and economic growth, within this industry, and ensure that the privacy of Internet users in Canada is respected.
Read the full reply on the Privacy Commissioner of Canada‘s site.