Discussion questions: promoting trust & confidence


This is the first of three discussion papers that the province will release as part of its consultations to develop the Data Strategy. This paper aims to start a conversation about how the province should promote public trust and confidence in Ontario’s data economy, by posing questions for public discussion. Comments on this discussion paper will be collected until September 6, 2019. 

Commenting is now closed.

Through the first pillar of the Data Strategy, we have committed to promoting Ontarians’ trust and confidence in the data economy. We will do this ensuring that the right safeguards are in place to promote their ethical and responsible use.

We know that the problems and opportunities arising from the digital and data-driven economy are complex. Addressing them will require collaboration across sectors and between all levels of government. To that end, the province is committed to working with the federal government as Canada implements the Digital Charter and we hope their actions can happen as soon as possible. The federal government’s Digital Charter is a step in the right direction to address threats to people’s privacy and the protection of private data across the country.

Time is of the essence, and the Government of Ontario will take action to protect Ontarians using the range of legislative and non-legislative tools at its disposal.

Furthermore, we have committed to making Ontario open for business and implementing a digital first approach to programs and services. In keeping with these commitments, we are particularly interested in exploring interventions enabled by digital and design methods which reduce burdens for businesses, recognizing the inherent tensions in doing so. Accordingly, the province will prioritize innovative and unconventional interventions in the Data Strategy.

As we work to bring forward these actions through Ontario’s Data Strategy, we want to share some of our government’s considerations in the four key areas below. We want your input and feedback on these commitments through the accompanying discussion questions.

Comments on this discussion paper will be collected until September 6, 2019. We will post a summary of what we heard here, on this website Other consultations on subsequent discussion papers will follow. If you have questions or comments, please email us at digital.government@ontario.ca or send any other correspondence to the Ontario Digital Service, 595 Bay Street - Suite 1002, Toronto, Ontario, M7A 2C7.

Privacy, Data Protection and Data Governance

It is important to:

  • Ensure that Ontarians’ privacy and data rights are respected and upheld
  • Promote the continuous evolution of Ontario’s privacy and security frameworks to keep pace with new technological developments and challenges
  • Help public sector organizations implement user-friendly and modern data protection programs in light of emerging data collection and analysis techniques.
  • Promote the development of reusable and people-centered information, tools and methods that help small organizations practice privacy and data protection by design.
  • Clarify and strengthen Ontario’s jurisdiction and the application of provincial and federal laws over data collected from Ontarians.

Discussion questions

  • How can the province ensure that privacy and data protection practices throughout Ontario’s public sector…
    • Put people and users first;
    • Enable digital transformation;
    • Promote effective, efficient program management; and,
    • Protect Ontarians from data-related harms?
  • How can the province build capacity and promote culture change concerning privacy and data protection throughout the public sector (e.g., through training, myth-busting, new guidance and resources for public agencies)?
  • How can Ontario promote privacy protective practices throughout the private sector, building on the principles underlying the federal government’s private sector privacy legislation (the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act)?

Consumer Protection

It is important to:

  • Help Ontario businesses protect and respect consumers’ rights when collecting their data as a part of the provision of products and services, while ensuring businesses can participate in and benefit from the data economy.
  • Prevent discriminatory market practices enabled by data-driven practices.
  • Ensure that strong measures are in place to protect Ontarians, promote public trust and confidence and mitigate risks involved with consumer-facing Artificial Intelligence applications.

Discussion questions

  • How can the province help businesses – particularly small and medium-sized businesses better protect their consumers’ data and use data-driven practices responsibly?
  • How might the province help ensure that consumers are more meaningfully informed and protected when agreeing to internet-based contracts (including terms of service and privacy policies) involving transactions of their data?
  • How might the province improve transparency and accountability concerning the consumer-facing use of automated decision-making applications, including those powered by Artificial Intelligence?

Human Rights and Civil Liberties

It is important to:

  • Promote transparency, accountability and the ethical use of data-driven technologies by the public sector with an interest to upholding the fundamental rights of individuals.
  • Engage with the Law Commission of Ontario and the Ontario Human Rights Commission to better understand the impacts of data-driven technologies on the human rights of Ontarians.

Discussion questions

  • What digital and data-related threats to human rights and civil liberties pose the greatest risk for Ontarians? Where do these occur, and what is their impact?
  • How can the province best advance and uphold the human rights and civil liberties of Ontarians, in the face of growing digital and data-related harms?
  • Should the province institute new rights in relation to data and data-driven practices, such as the right to data ownership, the right to be informed, or the right to erasure?
  • Should the province regulate the use of automated decision-making in the public or private sectors? If so, in what contexts? How might the province guide the responsible and ethical use of these tools?

Public Education and Awareness

It is important to:

  • Promote public education and awareness through useful information, tools and resources to help Ontarians understand and protect themselves against data-related harms online.
  • Increase transparency of uses by government and the public sector of algorithms and automated decision-making (including Artificial Intelligence).
  • Encourage initiatives which promote local generation and access to data, digital rights information, and useful resources that promote cybersecurity, privacy and safety online.
  • Consult Ontarians online and in person about the risks and benefits arising from data- driven technologies, including Artificial Intelligence.

Discussion questions

  • How can the province best promote public knowledge and awareness about the risks of data-related threats and harms facing Ontario?
  • How can public education initiatives empower Ontarians to stay safe and protect themselves from data-related threats and harms?
  • How can the province best work with local agencies and organizations delivering public education efforts which are responding to the ground-level impacts of data-related harms?
  • Should the province create a mandatory requirement that public institutions be transparent about when automated decision-making practices are occurring?