The House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics spent much of February conducting a study on the collection and use of mobility data by the Government of Canada. The study stems from reports that the Public Health Agency of Canada worked with Telus and BlueDot, an AI firm, to identify COVID-19 trends based on mobility data. I appeared before the committee earlier this week, making the case that this is a a genuine privacy quandary where the activities were arguably legal, the notice met the low legal standard, Telus is widely viewed as seeking to go beyond the strict statutory requirements, and the project itself had the potential for public health benefits. Yet despite these factors, something does not sit right with many Canadians. I believe that something are outdated privacy laws that are no longer fit for purpose. My opening statement is posted below.
Post Tagged with: "privacy act"
The Urgent Need for Privacy Reform: My Appearance Before the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics
President Donald Trump’s Executive Order on domestic safety, released yesterday, has enormous implications for the privacy of everyone living outside the United States. For Canadians, the order should raise significant concerns about government data shared with U.S. authorities as well as the collection of Canadian personal information by U.S. agencies. Given the close integration between U.S. and Canadian agencies – as well as the fact that Canadian Internet traffic frequently traverses into the U.S. – there are serious implications for Canadian privacy. Moreover, the order will raise major concerns in the European Union, creating the possibility of restrictions on data transfers as it seemingly kills the Privacy Shield compromise.
Section 14 of the Executive Order states:
Agencies shall, to the extent consistent with applicable law, ensure that their privacy policies exclude persons who are not United States citizens or lawful permanent residents from the protections of the Privacy Act regarding personally identifiable information.
The protection of Canadian information which ends up in U.S. hands has long been a source of concern. Professor Lisa Austin has written about “constitutional black holes” in which Canadian data is not protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the protection afforded to the data in the United States is at a lower standard than for its citizens and permanent residents.
Canada’s Privacy Failure: My Appearance Before the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy & Ethics
I appeared last week before the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy & Ethics as part of the committee’s review of the Privacy Act. My opening remarks highlighted several longstanding concerns with the legislation and then turned to three broader issues: Bill C-51’s information sharing provisions, transparency reporting, and the revival of lawful access issues.
My full prepared opening remarks are posted below:
Appearance before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy & Ethics, September 29, 2016
Justice Minister Robert Nicholson has responded to a pair of committee reports recommending changes to the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. He rejected both sets of recommendations.
The Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics has released its study on Privacy Act reform. The Committee only accepted a handful of the "quick fix" recommendations from the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. The NDP supported them all. I appeared before the committee as part of the study […]