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Privacy Commissioner releases Annual Report: Calls for increased pressure to remove street cameras in downtown Kelowna

Ottawa, December 12, 2001 - In his 2000-2001 Annual Report to Parliament released today, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, George Radwanski, calls on Members of Parliament and Senators to assist in pressing the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to remove police surveillance cameras from a downtown street in Kelowna, B.C.

Earlier this year, Mr. Radwanski's office investigated the use of video surveillance cameras by the RCMP in Kelowna who, acting as a municipal police force, were continuously monitoring and recording everyone on a public street. He found this to be in clear contravention of the Privacy Act, which covers personal information held by the Government of Canada. The RCMP is still continuing 24-hour surveillance, only now without continuous recording. This is technically in compliance with the Privacy Act, which defines personal information as information about an identifiable individual that is "recorded in any form."

"As I made clear in my finding, I consider this sort of video surveillance of public places to be an extremely serious violation of privacy rights even in the absence of recording," writes Mr. Radwanski in his Annual Report. "It is the very presence of video cameras, whether they are recording at any moment or not, that creates the privacy-destroying sense of being observed."

There is absolutely no evidence that video surveillance actually reduces crime, rather than merely displacing it to other locations where there are no cameras. The Privacy Commissioner's concerns in this matter are outlined in pages 14 through 17 of his Annual Report.

In his first Annual Report as Privacy Commissioner, Mr. Radwanski also highlights several significant victories for the privacy rights of Canadians and discusses other privacy issues with which he has been preoccupied over the past year. In addition, he provides detailed summaries of select cases and findings under both federal privacy laws - the Privacy Act and the new private-sector legislation, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents (PIPED) Act, which began coming into effect this year.

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada's 2000-2001 Annual Report is available in both HTML and PDF formats on his office's Web site at www.priv.gc.ca. Copies are also available for the media through the Parliamentary Press Gallery.

 

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For more information, contact:

Anne-Marie Hayden
Media Relations
Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
Tel.: (613) 995-0103
ahayden@priv.gc.ca
www.priv.gc.ca

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