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Annual Report to Parliament 2014-2015 – Report on the

Privacy Act

EYE ON GOVERNMENT SURVEILLANCE

The reporting period featured three specific

bills interwoven by the fact that they increased

the government’s ability to collect, use and

disclose personal information about Canadians

without consent.

**********

Bill C-51

In January 2015, Bill C-51 (the

Anti-Terrorism

Act, 2015

) was tabled in Parliament. The

Bill included the

Security of Canada

Information Sharing Act

(SCISA). This latter

Act provides all federal institutions with the

discretion to share personal information

collected from Canadians with any of 17

specifically enumerated federal departments

and agencies that have a mandate (or part

of a mandate) in respect of “activities that

undermine the security of Canada” - as long

as the information is relevant to the recipient

institution’s mandate in that regard.

Before Bill C-51 was introduced, the

Commissioner and his provincial and

territorial counterparts asked in

a joint resolution

that an evidence based approach be

followed before new legislation was adopted to

extend powers of national security agencies.

Following its introduction, our Office raised

a number of concerns with SCISA, expressed

by the Commissioner in submissions to

Parliament,

3

and we followed the lively and

ongoing public debate over Bill C-51 with

great interest.

With its August 2015 coming into force,

SCISA provides 17 government institutions

involved in national security with virtually

limitless powers to monitor and, with the

assistance of Big Data analytics, profile

ordinary Canadians, with a view to identifying

security threats among them.

Among other changes, the Office

recommended the Bill state that federal

institutions share personal information

only when it is considered “necessary or

proportional” to a recipient institution’s

legal mandate in respect of “activities that

undermine the security of Canada,” and not

merely “relevant.” As well, rather than putting

the onus on the sending department to decide

what information may be necessary to national

security, the Bill should explicitly require

the department receiving the information—

which presumably would have the expertise

to make such a determination—to decide

if the information was indeed necessary for

purposes relating to its “security” mandate, and

if not, require it to destroy the information

immediately.

3

https://www.priv.gc.ca/parl/2015/parl_sub_150305_e.asp https://www.priv.gc.ca/parl/2015/parl_sub_150416_e.asp https://www.priv.gc.ca/parl/2015/parl_20150423_e.asp

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