OPC Joins Int’l Privacy Authorities to Promote the Protection of Data in Video-Teleconferencing Services

By Esther Shainblum and Martin U. Wissmath

Nov 2021 Charity & NFP Law Update
Published on November 25, 2021



Canada’s Privacy Commissioner joined several other countries to engage global leading companies providing video-teleconferencing technology (“VTC”) in an effort to mitigate privacy risks and ensure best practices to protect personal information. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada joined privacy authorities from Australia, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong [SAR, China], Gibraltar and Switzerland (the “Authorities”) in a July 21, 2020 joint statement inviting five of the world’s largest VTC companies to reply, leading to an October 27, 2021 announcement and report, “Observations following the joint statement on global privacy expectations of video teleconferencing companies”. Microsoft, Google, Cisco and Zoom responded (the “Companies”) — Houseparty, another social networking service that allowed group video chatting, did not respond, but ceased operations in September 2021.

The Authorities addressed privacy issues involving the general use of large public VTC platforms, rather than focusing on specific contexts such as telehealth or education where sensitive information is shared. The joint statement noted the Companies’ “responsibility for protecting the privacy rights of citizens of the world” and acknowledged the “sharp increase in the use of VTC for both social and business purposes” as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Authorities highlighted their concerns about whether “privacy safeguards were keeping pace with the rapid increase in the use of VTC services during the global pandemic”, and provided “guiding principles to address key privacy risks.” The report outlines five principles or “good practices” and offers three additional recommendations for further improvement, summarized in this Bulletin.

For the balance of this Bulletin, please see Charity & NFP Law Bulletin No. 505.


Read the November 2021 Charity & NFP Law Update