Privacy Commissioner of Canada Warns Against Weakening Privacy Through Canadian DMCA

Privacy Commissioner of Canada Jennifer Stoddart has issued a public letter to Industry Minister Jim Prentice and Canadian Heritage Minister Josee Verner warning against copyright reforms that "could have a negative impact on the privacy rights of Canadians." 

The letter focuses on the anti-circumvention provisions, which Stoddart notes would weaken privacy protections for Canadians "if changes to the Copyright Act authorized the use of technical mechanisms to protect copyrighted material that resulted in the collection, use and disclosure of personal information without consent."  She also highlights the potential impact of mandated data retention under a notice-and-notice system, concluding that "allowing a private sector organization to require an ISP to retain personal information is a precedent-setting provision that would seriously weaken privacy protections."

The outcry against the Canadian DMCA have largely centered on the U.S. influence in crafting the bill and its effect on education and consumer rights.  Stoddart’s public letter provides an important reminder that it is more than just copyright law that hangs in the balance as the government's plans could ultimately place Canadians' privacy at risk.

Update:  The Stoddart letter is the focus of my technology law column this week (Toronto Star version, homepage version).  Ars Technica covers it as well. 

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