Privacy Priorities - page 10

Technology has also enabled the development
of a vast range of ever-bigger and increasingly
sophisticated personal information databases.
Huge amounts of personal information – for
example, communications traffic, financial
transactions and air travel itineraries – are
collected, shared, matched and analyzed for
public safety purposes. And all of this activity
unfolds at the speed of light.
Our Office has held that public safety
authorities must be accountable to a degree
appropriate to the significant powers
entrusted to them.
As well, the exercise of such powers must be
in line with fundamental rights and Canadian
values. Without such limits, the very basis of
our free and democratic society – trust between
the state and its citizens – would be threatened.
What we achieved
Rather than examining each new public safety
measure as it arose, designating Public Safety
and Privacy as a priority issue allowed us to
take a more comprehensive, well-balanced,
integrated and ultimately effective approach.
We saw our role as working to ensure
that new public safety measures, though
important in this modern context, do not
unduly erode privacy rights.
We did not set out to stop initiatives, but
rather, worked to mitigate their potential
negative impacts on privacy by asking
questions, challenging assumptions and
critically examining the issues.
In particular, our work shone a light on
public safety initiatives, encouraging greater
by the numbers
A poll conducted for the Association of Canadian Studies
in late 2012 found that 60 percent of respondents
disagreed with the statement:
“in order to curb
terrorism in this
country, I am ready
to give up some
civil liberties.”
Terrorism and counter terrorism: Knowledge, Fears and
Perceived Causes. Association for Canadian Studies.
December 2012
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