Poilievre Changes His Tune on Privacy and Google Street View

Earlier this week, Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre attracted considerable attention by raising the privacy concerns associated with Google Street View.  Poilievre was quoted asking "is there going to be a mass database of people's images? What are the benefits to Canada of allowing this to occur?"  The original article states that:

Poilievre said he is particularly concerned about the original versions of those images that will be archived by Google. The original versions of the images will not be blurred. He said they could pose a privacy risk for Canadians if they somehow leaked out. He also questioned where the images would be stored and whether privacy laws could protect Canadians if the images were stored on a foreign computer server.

Poilievre appears to have had a change of heart.  His concerns are not that Canadian privacy law is too weak to address these issues, but rather that it is too strong.  In a National Post op-ed, Poilievre is now concerned that Canadian privacy law might create a barrier to Google Street View.  He starts by noting:


The presence of Google’s Street View in Canadian cities is great news. It will showcase our urban life and attract tourists. It will allow parents to preview potential living conditions, as their kids leave the nest to go to university. It will bring us in line with American, European and Asians cities that have hosted this service since 2007.

While he earlier stated that he was concerned about storing the original images archived by Google (which the Privacy Commissioner rightly states involves issues of consent and correction of inaccuracies), he now worries that "Google could not store the images of the thousands of people it photographs without the prior permission of each and every one of them. That would be impossible, not to mention ridiculous."

So what does Poilievre actually want?  He now says the law needs to be updated to create an exemption for photographic mapping systems.  He concludes that "if the law does not accommodate this useful and popular service, then maybe the law needs fixing. The committee should come up with that fix now. Let’s get to work." 

Poilievre fails to mention that his committee already spent months looking at Canadian private sector privacy law and developed many recommendations for reform in 2007, none of which have been implemented.  Or he might mention that his committee spent months looking at the woefully outdated public sector privacy law but has yet to release a report and recommendations.  If he is serious about addressing Canadian privacy law, he could address those issues, or the do-not-call disaster, or the absence of anti-spam legislation, or the cross-border data transfer concerns.  There is plenty he can do now without trying to undo a balance that permits a service like Google Street View but provides Canadians with some basic privacy safeguards.


  1. “if the law does not accommodate this useful and popular service, then maybe the law needs fixing.”

    … Funny how this sort of thinking is never applied to any technology that empowers us like p2p.

  2. Poilievre is Harper’s little pet weasel!
    Poilievre is as annoying to listen to as Harper himself and is nothing more than Harper’s little Conservative gopher! I can’t wait until these Conservative idiots are out!

  3. Giordano Bruno says:

    “It will bring us in line with American, European and Asians cities that have hosted this service since 2007″. As I said previously I love surfing Rome (my natal city) using google street view and I was worried to never enjoy Canadian cities as well. Glad he had a breakthrough. Saying he was worried about database leaks when we live in a society where our personal information are scattered all over the places (banks, companies, government, cultural centers, and so on) it was very lame.

  4. ive seen this guy in question period
    hes arrogant self centered and egotistical, as well as JUST DAMN mean.
    there must be a reason for this change that some how benefits him or that party.
    AND it isn’t about being nice.

    I’ve never seen anything nice form conservatives.

  5. If the law is in the way of big kompanies and entertainment kartels
    “if the law does not accommodate this useful and popular service, then maybe the law needs fixing.”


    If the law is in the way of greedy big kompanies and old farts owning entertainment kartels, then it definitely needs fixing.

  6. Pierre does what he thinks is popular, not what is right
    Michael, as one of Pierre’s constituents, let me explain what happened. He is the MP for Nepean Carleton and a huge number of his constituents are high-tech and IT workers in various Ottawa tech companies. I guarantee after the first statement, he got a lot of email from his constituents (me included) telling him what an absolute idiot he is. And now he has changed his tune, pretending he had this view the whole time.

    The man is a slimy, ignorant unprincipled eel and cannot be trusted, no matter what he says.

  7. Head In The Clouds
    …and while Toews was spending the Security budget chasing marijuana users, an advertised vehicle was driving all over Canada inhaling passwords and email. Intelligence agents of a foreign nature were collecting secret data in a routine, consistent and sustained manner using unspecified stealth technology. Yet, just last week Mr. Harper said ‘all Canadians should feel safe on the streets night or day.’ Will the security minister provide proper shielding for our communications hardware? Why are foreign agents allowed to obviously snoop inside our homes? Where were the Radio Rangers on this one? Can the Security Minister find a cricket in the woods? A high profile company used stealth radio wave technology all day, every day and no one thought to sniff a peak? Are we sold out of frequency meters? I understand there is no justice but I expect security. There’s a stranger in the House…probably got a lot of pals running in place by now too.