Submission to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada Regarding its Draft Position on Online Reputation

This submission is made jointly by the HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario (HALCO) and the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network in response to the call for comments from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada on its Draft Position on Online Reputation.

The rapid proliferation of personal information online, driven by the monetization of information and information flow, has allowed commercial interests to shape a new social landscape whereby individuals are readily judged on the basis of available online information. The information disclosed by a search engine in response to a search of an individual’s name is commonly sought out or stumbled upon by would-be employers, landlords, colleagues and friends, among others. As noted in the Position Paper, “information, once posted online, gains characteristics that affect reputation—it can easily be distorted, is persistent and can be extremely difficult to remove.”

This submission examines the privacy compliance duties under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, 2000 (PIPEDA) as they relate to the unique impact of the disclosure of sensitive personal information about people living with HIV.