People living with HIV continue to face discrimination, social exclusion, and violence when their HIV status is disclosed without their consent. For these reasons, robust and accessible privacy protections are very important to people living with HIV. Privacy laws can both prevent breaches in relation to their HIV status and provide responsive remedies when privacy breaches do occur.
HALCO’s September 2021 submissions built on our October 2020 participation in an initial consultation on improving Ontario’s privacy laws. Our earlier submissions focused on the importance of (i) the establishment of a “right to be forgotten”; (ii) increased enforcement powers for Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC); and (iii) expanding the scope of privacy law to include commercial and non-commercial organizations.
Following the initial consultation, Ontario agreed that the new privacy law would include both commercial and non-commercial organizations and was exploring a “right to be forgotten”. In response to the government’s request for feedback on specific proposals, HALCO proposed that the draft privacy legislation should include:
Data rights to erasure that apply to all information an organisation holds about an individual, and a right to online “source takedown” (i.e., removal of content from the internet) as a remedy in certain circumstances.
Creating categories of information that should be considered “sensitive”, including health information.
An expansion of powers for Ontario’s IPC that includes the ability to award meaningful compensation for privacy breaches.
HALCO is hopeful that Ontario’s new privacy legislation will fill some of the gaps in existing privacy laws and provide better protections to people living with HIV.