Effects of Informal Online Regulatory Regimes on Privacy

Project Summary:

The goal of this project is to examine the potential effects on Canadians’ privacy of non-legally binding or ‘informal’ regulatory regimes that are undertaken by globally operating Internet firms and online payment providers. In particular, the project explores risks to Canadian’s privacy resulting from the involvement of Internet companies in informal regulatory agreements with intellectual property rights holders. The expansion of e-commerce facilitates the ability of consumers to acquire counterfeit goods and copyright infringing content such as unauthorised downloads of music, film, and software. To address this behaviour, multinational rights holders, such as Nike, Gucci, Proctor and Gamble, and Microsoft are forming enforcement partnerships with large, mostly U.S.-based Internet firms and payment providers like Google, PayPal and Visa. Instead of using legislation or judicial remedies like litigation or court orders, however, these rights holders are increasingly using non-legally binding regulatory agreements. These agreements, which do not have the force or legitimacy of law, are composed of broadly worded minimum guidelines to direct Internet firms’ enforcement efforts. Under these agreements, Internet firms and payment providers act voluntarily to remove Internet content from websites determined to be illicitly distributing counterfeit products or copyright-infringing material.

Project Description:

This project speaks to two of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner’s priorities, namely the business of collecting, using and disclosing information on the Internet, and analysis of companies’ codes of practice relating to privacy. The project’s objectives are to explore the following questions to assess how informal enforcement programs operating in Canada, the United States and European Union may affect Canadians’ privacy:
1) What information from Canadians do intermediaries share with third parties in relation these informal agreements?
2) What laws and policies govern intermediaries’ sharing of personal information with other corporate actors within these informal agreements, and to what extent are intermediaries compliant?

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Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Contributions Program

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(e.g type 1000 for 1,000)