Special Report to Parliament - page 5

1
Introduction:
Mandate of our
Office and the
Purpose of this
Report
The last few months have seen intensified
concerns about the protection of privacy in the
context of national security activities. In order
to contribute to an informed, constructive
debate to address these concerns, the Office
of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC)
has produced this report in the hope of
assisting Parliament in addressing the question
as to whether Canada still has proper privacy
protection in the context of national security.
The OPC oversees compliance with both the
Privacy Act
, governing the federal public
sector, and the
Personal Information Protection
and Electronic Documents Act
, governing the
private sector. Intelligence organizations and
operations are subject to the
Privacy Act
,
which applies to the personal information
practices of federal institutions to ensure that
the privacy of individuals is protected.
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1
Privacy Act
, R.S.C., 1985, c. P-21, section 2.
The Privacy Commissioner of Canada is an
independent Agent of Parliament. The OPC
takes complaints, conducts audits and provides
advice on privacy issues to commercial
organizations, federal government institutions
and Parliament. This special report is tabled
before both Houses, pursuant to section 39(1)
of the
Privacy Act
.
While the OPC oversees the entire public
service for compliance with the
Privacy Act
,
specialized bodies were created to handle
compliance and review, including privacy, of
intelligence operations in Canada: the Security
Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC), the
Office of the CSE Commissioner (OCSEC) and
the Commission for Public Complaints against
the RMCP (CPC).
The right to privacy is fundamental in Canada.
It is central to personal integrity and essential
to a free and democratic society. Recent
events have brought to light new privacy risks
within the current political and technological
framework of intelligence activities. The
evolution of security threats to open,
democratic states - combined with the speed
and power of technical surveillance practices
and the desire to prevent or prepare for attacks
of violence - create a pressing issue for
democratic states to confront. As public
concerns mount with regard to privacy
protection in this context, the purpose of this
report is to offer concrete recommendations
and further a reasonable, constructive public
debate.
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