Canadian privacy regulators launch principles for the responsible development and use of generative AI

December 7, 2023

Federal, provincial and territorial privacy authorities have launched a set of principles to advance the responsible, trustworthy and privacy-protective development and use of generative artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in Canada.

The authorities introduced the principles during an international symposium on privacy and generative AI, hosted this week in Ottawa by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is an advanced form of information processing created for the purpose of automating and/or enhancing the performance of human tasks. Generative AI is a subset of machine learning in which systems are trained on massive information sets – often including personal information.

While AI presents potential benefits across many domains and in everyday life, the regulators note that there are also risks and potential harms to privacy, data protection, and other fundamental human rights if these technologies are not properly developed and regulated.

Organizations have a responsibility to ensure that products and services that are using AI comply with existing domestic and international privacy legislation and regulation.

Subject matter experts within the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) of Alberta contributed to the development of the principles being launched this week.

“These are high level principles intended for organizations that develop, customize or implement generative artificial intelligence for their clients,” said Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod. “In the Alberta context, this would include some of our universities and the Alberta Machine Learning Institute, amongst others. Smaller custodians that are more likely to buy AI products directly from vendors can refer to our Guidance for Small Custodians on the use of Artificial Intelligence, released last week. Our office places a high priority on assisting organizations which are using AI and other innovative technologies, and we hope to develop similar supports in the near future.”

The joint document issued today lays out how key privacy principles apply when developing, providing, or using generative AI models, tools, products and services. These include:

  • establishing legal authority for collecting and using personal information and, when relying on consent, ensuring that it is valid and meaningful;
  • being open and transparent about the way information is used and the privacy risks involved;
  • making AI tools explainable to users;
  • developing safeguards for the protection of privacy rights; and
  • limiting the sharing of personal, sensitive or confidential information.

Developers are also urged to take into consideration the unique impact that these tools can have on vulnerable groups, including children.

The document provides examples of best practices, including implementing “privacy by design” into the development of the tools, and the labelling content created by generative AI.

Click here to read the Principles for Responsible, Trustworthy and Privacy-Protective Generative AI Technologies.

Through the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) in Alberta, the Commissioner performs the responsibilities set out in Alberta’s three access to information and privacy laws, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP Act), the Health Information Act (HIA) and the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA). The Commissioner operates independent of government.

For more information:

Elaine Schiman
Communications Manager
Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta
Mobile: (587) 983-8766