If these Canadians lived in the United States, how would they protect their privacy?
This paper contributes to the debate about the adequacy of the United States’ fragmented, networked, federal system of privacy protection, an outlier among modern industrialized Western democracies, by taking the perspective of an individual seeking redress for privacy invasions. We analyze five actual privacy cases from the Canadian private sector, investigated by the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, and examine whether the privacy “wrong” experienced by Canadian complainants would be illegal in the U.S., how an individual would proceed with a complaint and what the outcome might be. We attempt therefore to bring the debate away from the typically abstract institutional and legal approach to the level of the regime’s practical effectiveness. Despite well-documented flaws in the Canadian privacy protection system, from the point of view of the average citizen, it provides a more consistent, transparent, accessible and effective means for making privacy complaints and having them investigated and resolved, especially when the personal data is captured online.
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