Bill on privacy: a “missed opportunity” according to the Center for Digital Rights

He should have made sure that political parties were subject to federal privacy law. (Photo: Adrian Wyld for The Canadian Press)

A digital rights advocacy organization says Justin Trudeau’s government just missed an opportunity to ensure political parties are subject to federal privacy law.

Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains introduced a bill earlier this week to give Canadians greater control over their data and promising penalties for companies that break the rules to do so.

But he did not respond to long-standing calls from privacy advocates for federal privacy law to apply explicitly to political parties.

Information on potential voters is very useful for parties, from door to door to the development of their platforms.

The era of algorithms and detailed databases raises new concerns about how parties use this information to track and target voters.

Their omission in the new Liberal bill is disappointing for Bill Hearn, an attorney for the Center for Digital Rights.

“They are missing out on a huge opportunity to do what most Canadians want,” he laments.

Me Hearn also represents Gary Dickson, a former MLA from Alberta who lodged a complaint with the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Daniel Therrien.

According to Dickson, who also served as Saskatchewan’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, people are often surprised to learn that political parties are not explicitly covered by federal privacy law. Personal Information and Electronic Documents (PIPEDA), which applies to the private sector.

“I think Canadians expect that when dealing with political parties – just like with banks, car dealers and drugstores – their privacy will be respected and their personal information protected,” he said. Mr. Dickson argued in an interview.

The Center for Digital Rights is pushing for PIPEDA to specifically apply to political parties, riding associations, candidates and nomination contestants.

The nonprofit intends to go to court if the federal commissioner determines that it lacks the power to investigate Mr. Dickson’s complaint. His lawyer says he expects Mr. Therrien’s decision soon.

The center has also filed complaints with the Federal Competition Bureau, the British Columbia Information and Privacy Commissioner, the Federal Telecommunications Regulator and the Commissioner of Elections of British Columbia. Canada.

Asked about it, John Power, a spokesperson for Minister Bains, said the government is still revising the Privacy Act, which in turn applies to government agencies and regulated businesses. federal government such as banks and airlines.

However, he did not say whether the minister believes the Privacy Act, and not PIPEDA, would be the more appropriate legislation to bring political parties under control.

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