Comments to the Canadian Office of the Privacy Commissioner

April 27, 2018

The Reporters Committee submitted comments on behalf of a coalition of news media organizations to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) in response to its draft position paper on online reputation, which argues that Canadian privacy law essentially incorporates the "right to be forgotten." RCFP's comments argue that the position paper should clarify that websites performing a journalistic function are exempt from any takedown obligations, and that OPC's all-or-northing approach in finding that search engines never perform a journalistic function (and thus are never exempt from de-indexing obligations) would have unintended consequences. RCFP's comments also argue that OPC's draft position paper gives insufficient weight to de-indexing's negative effect on freedom of expression, that OPC should give more guidance on how search engines should balance privacy and the public interest in evaluating de-indexing requests, that search engines should be encouraged to notify source websites of de-indexing requests, and that source websites should have access to an appeals process at both the search engine and governmental levels.