The inclusion of a privacy exception within Bill C-61's anti-circumvention provisions was not particularly surprising given that the U.S. DMCA includes one and there has been mounting concern about the privacy implications of DRM. The issue has captured the attention of the Canadian privacy community for the past few years. In 2006, a group of privacy and civil liberties organizations and experts sent a public letter to the responsible ministers calling for assurances that:
- any proposed copyright reforms will prioritize privacy protection by including a full privacy consultation and a full privacy impact assessment with the introduction of any copyright reform bill;
- any proposed anti-circumvention provisions will create no negative privacy impact; and
- any proposed copyright reforms will include pro-active privacy protections that, for example, enshrine the rights of Canadians to access and enjoy copyright works anonymously and in private.
The group (of which I am a member) sent a follow-up letter earlier this year as did Privacy Commissioner of Canada Jennifer Stoddart, who posted a public letter expressing concern that copyright reform could have a negative impact on privacy. Given those concerns, an exception to protect personal information is not unexpected. However, Section 41.14 fails to provide Canadians with full privacy protection and Bill C-61 unquestionably makes it more difficult for Canadians to effectively protect their privacy.