Thursday, June 13, 2013

New column day

Here, on how Canada's federal privacy law actually prohibits our own federal government from conducting secret surveillance (so long as it's actually followed) - as well as how little that law means if countries don't recognize that privacy applies beyond their borders.

For further reading...
- Michelle Shepard reported here on Canada's history of surveillance activities. 
- The federal Privacy Act is here. See in particular section 11's obligation to public lists of personal information collected by each government institution, as well as the treatment of exempt data banks in section 18. 
- CSEC allows Canadians to make requests for their own information here. But it points to this generic list of personal information banks, rather than mentioning that any set of "data trails" on Canadians might be collected.
- Meanwhile, CSEC points proudly to its "foreign intelligence allies" here - with a couple of countries well known for excessive surveillance looming prominently on the list. And Peter MacKay is trying to use the "foreigners" dodge in responding to questions about CSEC's activities - while pogge highlights why we need international pushback against the surveillance state. 
- I don't see much value in the proposal floated by Jack Harris and Hugh Segal to brief a small number of parliamentarians on spying activity - as the provision of information which can't be used as part of a public discussion only figures to make it more difficult for anybody to ask tough questions.
- Finally, Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart has weighed in with her own confirmation that metadata should be treated as protected personal information.

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