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Annual Report to Parliament 2014-2015 – Report on the

Privacy Act

implications raised by such activities are

recognized and respected.

Reputation and Privacy

The Internet and the digital society it has

spawned have had a profound impact on

personal reputation management. Once

personal information moves online in one

context, it can be extremely challenging to

remove or keep it from being used in different

contexts. Though people grow and change over

time, the personal information posted online

about them may cast a constant shadow.

The federal government has demonstrated

a growing appetite for the use of publicly

available personal information in the context

of security screening, including information

found on social media sites. This gives rise

to the risk of profiling that may see people

defined by their digital past.

Our goal will be to create an environment

where people can use the Internet to explore

their interests without fear of their digital trace

leading to unfair treatment.

Government Surveillance

As documented in chapter three, the past year

in Parliament has seen some dramatic shifts in

the landscape around national security. With

the passage of Bill C-51, the


Act, 2015

—which includes the

Security of

Canada Information Sharing Act—


can expect that more and more of their

personal information will be shared with a

wider range of government institutions for the

broad purpose of addressing “activities that

undermine the security of Canada.”

Briefly, this Act enables all Government of

Canada institutions to share any information

they have collected about Canadians with any

or all of 17 federal departments and agencies

with a mandate, or part of a mandate, related

to national security as long as the information

is “relevant” to the recipient institution’s

mandate in that regard.

As I have detailed to Parliament

—I believe

the law’s goal of enabling information sharing

to identify threats is accomplished at much

too great a cost to privacy. The door has

been opened to the personal information of

ordinary, law-abiding citizens being collected

and shared disproportionately. This sets up the

prospect of profiling and the use of Big Data

analytics on all Canadians.

Among other concerns, the threshold for

sharing information—that it be “relevant” to

national security—sets the bar far too low. I

had recommended amending the Bill to replace

“relevant” with “necessary or proportional.”

In addition, there is a glaring lack of clear

personal information retention and destruction

obligations for organizations.