Jennifer Stoddart is Canada’s federal Privacy Commissioner, a position she has held since 2003. During her tenure, she has made Canada a world leader in the area of privacy protection, and has brought a sense of renewal to her office. Her team has taken a forward-looking approach to this field, identifying four emerging issues: information technology, genetic information, national security and identity integrity. Regarding the new challenges in privacy protection, she has said, “Uncharted terrain can bring challenge and hardship, but also breeds resilience and adaptation.”
Among the notable investigations that Ms. Stoddart’s office has undertaken was a look at the privacy policies and practices of Facebook, in 2008. This was the first such investigation of the social media giant anywhere. She has also addressed concerns that Google Inc. was collecting personal data from unsecured networks as part of work related to its Street View application.
Ms. Stoddart has sought to make Canadians aware of their privacy rights, even going so far as to create a website aimed at youth, youthprivacy.ca. She has led efforts to help public and private sector organizations better understand their obligations under federal privacy law and, particularly, under the Personal Information and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).
Prior to serving as Privacy Commissioner, Ms. Stoddart worked in both the Quebec and federal public services. She served as president of the Commission d'accès à l'information du Québec, publishing a report, Reforming Access to Information: Choosing Transparency, which led to more openness on the part of government departments and agencies towards members of the public.
Among the many honours that Ms. Stoddart has received are the Mérite Christine-Tourigny, which goes to a person who has worked to advance women in the legal profession, the Ontario Bar Association Karen Spector Memorial Award for Excellence in Privacy Law and the International Association of Privacy Professionals Vanguard Award. She has also been named one of the Top 25 most influential lawyers by Canadian Lawyer.