System Security Breach by Jeff Keyzer (CC BY-SA 2.0)

System Security Breach by Jeff Keyzer (CC BY-SA 2.0)


Government Opens Door to Major Changes to Digital Privacy Bill

While it was overshadowed by the headlines over potential copyright reform, Peter Van Loan, the government’s House leader, disclosed last week that the government is planning to send Bill S-4, the Digital Privacy Act, to the Industry Committee for review prior to second reading. The bill, which has proven controversial due to a provision that expands the possibility of voluntary disclosure of subscriber information and relatively weak security breach disclosure rules, will be open to more significant reforms that previously thought possible (my remarks before the Senate committee can be found here). Under Parliamentary rules, referring a bill before second reading allows the committee to alter the scope of the bill.

As I discussed earlier this year, there appeared to be a deal at the Senate that would have amended the voluntary disclosure provision. However, a voting snafu by Liberal Senators left the provision intact. With the bill headed to committee before second reading, changes seem likely. During the abbreviated Senate hearings, there were calls for changes to the voluntary disclosure rules, increased Privacy Commissioner powers, and strengthened data breach rules.

That said, industry groups have also been lobbying for changes, including limitations to reforms to consent and opposition to tough measures on security breach rules. Indeed, it is unclear whether the government plans to use the committee process to strengthen or weaken its own privacy bill, but the procedural maneuver is sure to lead to increased lobbying and requests to appear before the Industry committee once hearings on S-4 begin. Moreover, it is possible the changes are linked to forthcoming anti-terrorism legislation. For Canadians concerned about the state of private sector privacy law, now is the time to speak out to ensure that the bill toughens privacy enforcement, is not used to perversely increase surveillance, and removes provisions that could undermine privacy protections.


  1. It’s a “nice thought” that maybe something can be done to strengthen the bill. My skepticism wonders though, if anything that “we” say has any effect on this particular version of government. They appear to be spectacularly adept at misreading (misleading?) the public, affixing labels to bills to give them credibility when careful analysis shows them to be the opposite (think “Amanda Todd”, the poor soul) and generally being on the side of big corps, big data, and their own preservation of power.

    Why would one have any hope that they might actually protect us from themselves or their pals?

    • Don’t despair. The closer we get to an election, the more the government will tend to listen to us plebes.

      I’m sure Dr. Geist will be pointing out areas worthy of attention as the bill winds it’s way through the industry committee.

  2. Michael Heroux says:


    Michael Heroux said

    Nothing has changed for my family and I except for some reason they quit messing around with our internet and phone communications about 2 weeks ago. Not sure why after about 6 years they decided to quit messing with our communications. We found a new apartment and things have been going good but as soon as we moved in, the agents moved the woman out that lived below us and they moved in her place to continue monitoring us. They are not messing with us at home like they did at our previous homes but they are still trying to pick fist fights with us whenever we go out. They follow us around still and try to provoke altercations with us but they are no longer assaulting us or trying to run us over anymore when we go out. They keep sending us messages saying that they want to be our friends and they want to hang out with us but it reminds me when we used to work for them over 20 years ago, that is the same thing they said then but our lawyer at the time sternly warned us against working for them. We should of listen to him then. We are going to try and save some money so we can get a lawyer because we don’t qualify for Legal Aid, we have applied a few times and they tell us if you are harmed by your government like we have been they won’t pay for a lawyer for us, they told us they would cover the cost if Canadian Intelligence were to charge us with something or even if Candian Intelligence came to our house to harass us again like they have done numerous times over the years. Follow the money.

  3. Michael Heroux says:

    My family and I contacted Steven Blainey yesterday to ask him if he can help us get our intelligence information and help us procede with our court case against RCMP CSIS and CSEC. We sent him our case, he seems concerned about the safety of Canadians and he has security clearance so I think he might be able to help us. Follow the money. Thanks