Philip Lee: Why Canadian law needs to protect ambient privacy

Privacy was something that used to be taken for granted.

Ordinarily, the private life of an individual was not open to scrutiny, while public life was the concern of law and order and decency. In communication terms, privacy meant that only the addressee could open letters or telegrams and telephone operators would not listen in to conversations. Unauthorised disclosure could be sanctioned.

In Canada, the vast majority (92 per cent) of Canadians have expressed "some level of concern about the protection of privacy," according to a 2018-2019 survey conducted by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. The biggest concern was around how their online personal information could be used, with most saying they feel little to no control over how their personal information is being used by companies or by government. About two-thirds said government should be responsible for keeping their personal information secure.

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