Archive for June, 2014

Diving Into the Digital Privacy Act: My Appearance Before Senate Transport & Comm Committee on S-4

Diving Into the Digital Privacy Act: My Appearance Before Senate Transport & Comm Committee on S-4

Last night I appeared before the Senate Transport and Communications Committee, which is conducting hearings on Bill S-4, the Digital Privacy Act. I have posted on the bill’s shocking expansion of warrantless voluntary disclosure, by pointing to a provision that would permit disclosure to any organization, not just law enforcement. This appearance provided the opportunity to discuss a broader range of issues, including positive elements in the bill (clarification of consent, expansion of the Commissioner publicly disclosing information, and a longer time period to bring a case to the federal court), the areas in need of improvement (security breach disclosure standards, voluntary warrantless disclosure, compliance agreements), and the glaring omission of stronger reporting requirements.

The surprise of the night came at the end, when the chair indicated that the committee did not plan to hear from any further witnesses. The bill will therefore move to clause-by-clause review next week.

Appearance before the Senate Transport and Communications Committee, June 4, 2014

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June 5, 2014 2 comments Committees, News
Surveillance: America's Pastime by Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: naixn, Jason Smith / feastoffun.com) (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Why Has the Canadian Government Given Up on Protecting Our Privacy?

In recent years, it has become fashionable to argue that Canadians no longer care about their privacy. Supporters of this position note that millions of people voluntarily post personal information and photos about themselves on social media sites, are knowingly tracked by Internet advertising giants, and do not opt-out of “targeted” advertising from telecom companies. Yet if the past few months are any indication, it is not Canadians that have given up on privacy. It is the Canadian government.

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes the public response to the tidal wave of stories regarding widespread surveillance, the 1.2 million government requests to telecom companies for customer information, and the growing number of security breaches suggest that many Canadians are deeply concerned about the protection of their privacy. However, many feel helpless in the face on recent revelations and wonder whether the government is prepared to tighten privacy rules and establish stronger oversight.

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June 3, 2014 10 comments Columns

CBC’s The Current on Canadian Privacy and the New Privacy Commissioner

I appeared this morning on CBC’s The Current to discuss the state of Canadian privacy and the nomination of Daniel Therrien as the new Canadian privacy commissioner. Audio of the segment, which includes George Radwanski and Wayne Easter, here.

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June 3, 2014 2 comments Must Reads, Podcasts
Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime Confirms Victims Split on Bill C-13

Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime Confirms Victims Split on Bill C-13

The federal government created the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime in 2007 to ensure that victims concerns and voices were heard. Last week, Sue O’Sullivan, the current ombudsman, appeared before the committee studying Bill C-13, the lawful access/cyberbullying bill. Ms. O’Sullivan, a former Deputy Chief of Police for the Ottawa Police Service, confirmed what has become increasingly obvious. Despite the government’s expectations that victims and their families would offer strong support for Bill C-13, that community is split on the bill:

I would like to touch briefly on what appears to be the most controversial aspects of the bill, those which relate to investigative tools and the balance of powers and privacy. Privacy matters and technical investigative tools do not generally fall within my mandate. It is worth noting that among the victims we have spoken to, there is no clear consensus on the element of the bill. I have spoken with victims who very much support further measures to assist law enforcement in their investigation, and find the tools included in this bill to be balanced and necessary. I have, like you, heard opposing points of views from victims who don’t wish to see these elements of the bill proceed for fear they will impinge on Canadians’ privacy rights. From my own perspective, I would say that there is a balance to be struck, and the dialogue that Canadians are having is a needed and valuable one.

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June 2, 2014 4 comments News

Government Rejected Its Own Committee’s Preferred Candidate for Privacy Commissioner

With Daniel Therrien, the government’s nominee for Privacy Commissioner of Canada, scheduled to appear before the House of Commons Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics committee tomorrow, reports this morning provide new insights into the government’s selection process. Josh Wingrove of the Globe reports that there was a short-list of […]

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June 2, 2014 2 comments News