Privacy, Autonomy, and the Limits of Technology

March 26, 2001


The lecture is now online! you can also download the pdf file

This lecture explores the relationship between technology and privacy and the impact of the new Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. Commissioner Radwanski argues that the issue is more than simply a technological one requiring a technological solution, and that responsiblity for the protection of privacy cannot simply rest with individuals, no matter how technologically sophisticated they may be.

George Radwanski, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, has had a lifelong involvement in national affairs and major policy issues.

A graduate of McGill University in Montreal with degrees in political science and in law, Mr. Radwanski had a 20-year career in journalism that took him to the highest levels of the profession. He began this career in 1965 at the Montreal Gazette, successively as a reporter, columnist, associate editor, and Ottawa-based national affairs columnist. He subsequently was Ottawa editor and national affairs columnist of the Financial Times of Canada, before becoming editorial page editor and then Editor-in-Chief of The Toronto Star, Canada's largest newspaper.

In 1985, Mr. Radwanski left the field of journalism and was appointed by then Ontario Premier David Peterson to head two major policy studies of national importance: a study of the service sector and the post-industrial economy, and a study of the elementary and high school education system. He then became a public policy, strategy and communications consultant, providing advice to the public and private sectors. In 1996, at the request of the Government of Canada, Mr. Radwanski chaired the mandate review of Canada Post Corporation.

Mr. Radwanski is the author of the best-selling political biography, Trudeau, published in 1978, and co-author of two other books. He is a two-time winner of the National Newspaper Award for editorial writing.

Mr. Radwanski was appointed interim Privacy Commissioner effective September 1, 2000. On October 19, following approval by Parliament, he was appointed Privacy Commissioner of Canada for a seven-year term.