In 2018, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC), following an organizational review, adopted a new structure to support the Privacy Commissioner’s vision to be more proactive, and to focus efforts where there can be an impact for the greatest number of Canadians.
The core responsibility of the OPC is the protection of privacy rights of Canadians. To do this, the OPC’s work will now fall into two program areas — Compliance and Promotion. Both areas are part of the OPC’s mandate and are important in protecting privacy.
The OPC’s organizational structure is now comprised of three sectors: the Compliance Sector, the Policy and Promotion Sector, and the Corporate Management Sector. The work of each sector is overseen by a Deputy Commissioner. The three Deputy Commissioners, as well as the Legal Services Directorate, report directly to the Privacy Commissioner. The Commissioner is also supported by the OPC’s Executive Secretariat.
The Compliance Program is headed by the Deputy Commissioner, Compliance, Brent Homan. It focuses on addressing existing privacy compliance problems through a continuum of enforcement activities to ensure violations of the law are identified and that remedies are secured. This includes not only investigations in response to complaints filed by Canadians, but also a shift towards more proactive enforcement, such as:
- proactive, Commissioner-initiated investigations
- audits (in certain cases) to review issues that pose a high risk to individuals’ privacy rights but aren’t being addressed through the complaint system
The Compliance Sector includes three directorates:
- Privacy Act Compliance Directorate (public sector)
- Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) Compliance Directorate (private sector)
- Compliance, Intake and Resolution Directorate (public and private sectors)
Privacy Act Compliance Directorate
The Privacy Act Compliance Directorate conducts investigations under the Privacy Act concerning the collection, use and disclosure of personal information by federal institutions. It also conducts investigations related to access to personal information held by federal institutions. The Directorate also conducts proactive enforcement actions including audits of federal government organizations. The Directorate is headed by Amanda Edmunds, Director.
PIPEDA Compliance Directorate
The PIPEDA Compliance Directorate conducts investigations under PIPEDA about the collection, use and disclosure of personal information in the course of commercial activities. The Directorate also conducts proactive enforcement actions, including sector-wide investigations and audits of private sector organizations. The Directorate is headed by Michael Maguire, Director.
Compliance, Intake and Resolution Directorate
The Compliance, Intake, and Resolution Directorate is a new directorate within the Compliance Sector. It is responsible for complaint intake and the early resolution of complaints under both PIPEDA and the Privacy Act. It also:
- reviews and follows up on mandatory data breach reports from private sector organizations and federal institutions
- carries out breach investigations
- conducts compliance monitoring
The new Directorate is headed by Sue Lajoie, Executive Director.
Policy and Promotion Sector
The Promotion Program is headed by the Deputy Commissioner, Policy and Promotion, Gregory Smolynec. It is future-looking and aims to inform Canadians of their rights and how to exercise them, and to bring organizations toward compliance with the law. This involves, for example, the development and promotion of general—yet practical—information and guidance, reviewing and commenting on Privacy Impact Assessments (PIAs), and offering industry advice on specific initiatives. The goal is to share information and advice with businesses and departments when they are designing their services so that Canadians may enjoy the benefits of innovation without undue risk to their privacy.
The Policy and Promotion Sector includes five directorates: the Government Advisory Directorate, the Business Advisory Directorate, the Policy, Research and Parliamentary Affairs Directorate, the Technology Analysis Directorate and the Communications Directorate.
Government Advisory Directorate
The Government Advisory Directorate provides advice and recommendations to federal public sector institutions in relation to specific programs and initiatives, as well as in the review of PIAs and information sharing agreements submitted by departments and agencies. This group also undertakes various outreach initiatives with the federal public sector in order to encourage compliance with the Privacy Act. The Directorate is headed by Lacey Batalov, Director.
Business Advisory Directorate
The Business Advisory Directorate provides advisory services to businesses subject to PIPEDA in the context of advisory services for new programs and initiatives, reviews for existing privacy practices and proactive engagements with the business community. This group also undertakes various outreach initiatives with the private sector in order to encourage compliance with PIPEDA. The Directorate is headed by Abubakar Khan, Director.
Policy, Research and Parliamentary Affairs Directorate
The Policy, Research and Parliamentary Affairs Directorate develops strategic policy positions on legislative bills, government policies and private sector initiatives; supports the Commissioner’s appearances before Parliament; develops guidance for public and private sector; and conducts applied research on emerging privacy issues in support of this work. This Directorate also manages the OPC Contributions Program which funds external researchers and non-profit organizations to advance and apply new knowledge about data protection in the private sector. The Directorate is headed by Lara Ives, Executive Director.
Technology Analysis Directorate
The Technology Analysis Directorate identifies and analyzes technological trends and developments in electronic platforms and digital media; conducts research to assess the impact of technology on the protection of personal information in the digital world and provides strategic analysis and guidance on complex, varied and sensitive technological issues involving government and commercial systems that store personal information. The Directorate is headed by Martyn Turcotte, Director.
The Communications Directorate focuses on providing strategic advice and support for the planning and execution of public education and communications activities. Activities relate to the production and dissemination of information for Canadians and organizations aimed at increasing awareness of privacy rights and obligations through, for example, media monitoring and analysis, public opinion polling, media relations, publications, special events, various outreach campaigns and the OPC web site. The Directorate is also responsible for responding to requests for information from the public and organizations regarding privacy rights and responsibilities through the OPC’s Information Centre. The Directorate is headed by Brenna Morell, Executive Director.
Corporate Management Sector
The Corporate Management Sector is led by the Deputy Commissioner, Corporate Management. The Corporate Management Sector includes four directorates: the Human Resources Directorate, the Finance and Administration Directorate, the Information Management/information Technology Directorate, and the Business Planning, Performance, Audit and Evaluation Directorate.
The Corporate Management Sector provides advice and integrated administrative services such as corporate planning, resource management, financial management, information management/technology, human resources and people management and general administration to managers and staff. The Sector is headed by Richard Roulx, Deputy Commissioner, Corporate Management. It is also supported by four Directors: Sofia Scichilone (Human Resources Directorate), Robert Sabourin (Finance and administration Directorate), Sébastien Delisle-Côté (IM/IT Directorate) and Chantale Roussel (Business Planning, Performance, Audit and Evaluation Directorate).
Legal Services Directorate
The Legal Services Directorate reports directly to the Privacy Commissioner. The Directorate provides legal advice in relation to PIPEDA and Privacy Act investigations and audits, and in support of other operational activities across the OPC. It represents the OPC in litigation matters before the courts and in negotiations with other parties. The Directorate also includes OPC’s Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Program. The Directorate is headed by Julia Barss, General Counsel.
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