Data Privacy Day 2024
Data Privacy Day was on January 28th and this year’s theme is “Take Control of Your Data”.
In Canada, this theme aligns with recent legislation that enables individuals to determine how much and what type of personal information is made available for organizations and businesses to use. For us, it means making sure we all collect, manage and utilize data in a way that protects privacy and maximizes the benefits to society.
The private sector holds an obligation and responsibility to protect personal privacy based on evolving privacy laws. This means providing customers and consumers with better, flexible ways to customize their privacy settings – from consenting to cookie tracking during website visits to selecting what kinds of emails they would like to receive, and how their contact information gets shared.
As a data analytics provider, Environics Analytics (EA) understands that businesses, governments and policy makers need to use data to achieve goals and solve complex issues, while also protecting consumer privacy and keeping it top of mind every step of the way. Data usage and privacy protection can and should work harmoniously. Data plays a pivotal role in gaining business insights, fostering innovation and facilitating transformation. With this in mind, as an organization, we acknowledge emerging requirements that necessitate a substantial transformation of privacy programs in the coming years to protect the privacy of our clients and their customers and constituents while at the same time ensuring healthy research programs that lead to data driven decision-making.
In 2023, EA successfully completed an extensive ISO-31700-1 Privacy by Design (PbD) certification program through MSECB, becoming one of the first organizations in the world to do so. The ISO certification is an important evolution of the Privacy by Design framework by which an added, and very stringent, third-party validation of the Privacy by Design approach is undertaken that builds on and expands the seven principles of the PbD framework. This achievement underscores our unwavering commitment, as data leaders and privacy champions, to protect personal data and establishes the framework for our privacy program's future. The journey demanded a company-wide focus on embedding privacy measures into product development, modeling and analytical methods, guided by seven fundamental principles:
- Default privacy settings
- Design integration
- Full functionality
- End-to-end security
- Transparency and respect for data owners' privacy
The outcome assures our clients and partners that EA's products comply with regulations, adhere to industry best practices, and are well-prepared for an era of heightened regulatory safeguards and heightened public concerns regarding data usage.
Data privacy and security have, and will always be, central in our product development and service delivery. This includes ongoing monitoring of proposed legislative changes to ensure our readiness to adapt to evolving requirements.
Fostering a culture that elevates our privacy standards
EA has taken significant steps to establish a culture and values framework throughout the organization. Guided by a client-centric, problem-solving mentality, bolstered by robust governance and privacy guardrails, we are poised to deliver higher-quality data products than ever before. This signifies a crucial evolutionary shift where our privacy culture evolves from a rules-bound and reactive stance to one aligned with the highest-level principles of a data and insights company. This transformation has resulted in a substantial increase in "privacy knowledge" among our staff. Beyond our company's adherence to established personal information protection guidelines and legislation, we recognize that it is ultimately each of our employees who upholds our commitment to transparent, compliant and ethical data usage without diminishing the power of the resulting statistics to guide business and government decision-making.
Building a corporate strategy
Enabling our customers to take control of their data starts with a corporate data strategy that guides them to make the necessary decisions about how data is collected, where it is stored, who has access to it and its overall use in an ethical manner. Controls are not only a legal requirement but also a strategic imperative. Businesses that prioritize data controls can mitigate risks, gain a competitive advantage and build trust with clients and partners. By following best practices in privacy, data governance, security and ethics, corporations can navigate the complex data landscape while harnessing the full potential of their data assets. Companies need a strategy, controls and rules to effectively use data and insights – thus, providing clients and consumers with the products and services they expect. When data is responsibly handled and managed, it is proven that data and analysis can fuel the economy, support municipalities in attracting more investment, labour and tourism, plan the best places to locate stores, social services, childcare, newcomer support and, ultimately, allow for more opportunities for social and economic growth.
EA maintains a watchful eye on the changing privacy legislative environment whenever it advances through the parliamentary process nationally, provincially and in the US and Europe. Although the exact legislation to be enacted is uncertain, Canadian privacy laws — akin to those in the United States — are in a state of flux. Rest assured; we are well-prepared to meet more stringent requirements.
As an organization, we commit to investing in privacy and data security programs to ensure strict compliance with the law, empowering our clients to make data-driven decisions confidently.
If you have any questions about our policies and procedures, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. Let's continue the conversation beyond Data Privacy Day.
Jan Kestle is the President and Founder of Environics Analytics, Canada’s leading data analytics and marketing services company. She is a member of the Canadian Statistics Advisory Council (CSAC), the Board of Directors of the Canadian Marketing Association (CMA), the Advisory Board of Western University’s Morrissette School of Entrepreneurship and the Dean’s Advisory Council for Ted Rogers School of Management at Toronto Metropolitan University and the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University.Environics Analytics is an active member of the CMA’s Privacy and Data Advisory panel, the Canadian Anonymization Network (“CANON”) and the International Association of Privacy Professionals.