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Privacy Commissioner of Canada commends BC Information and Privacy Commissioner for furthering public debate on sharing of personal information about Canadians across borders

Ottawa, October 29, 2004 – The Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Jennifer Stoddart , today welcomed the report of the B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner, David Loukidelis on Privacy and the USA PATRIOT Act and commends him for bringing the issue of cross-border sharing of personal information to the attention of governments and Canadians.

“Striking a balance between the protection of privacy and the promotion of national security is one of the single most important issues facing our society today ,” said Ms. Stoddart. “This is an issue to be addressed by all jurisdictions across Canada and our Office looks forward to working with the federal government and the BC Information and Privacy Commissioner to address recommendations in the report.”

Some of key recommendations the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC) will be actively seeking to address include:

  • Review of the Privacy Act: That the Government of Canada consider whether federal legislation adequately protects the personal information of Canadians in the custody or under the control of the government of Canada or its agencies (directly or through contractors) from disclosure in response to a subpoena, warrant, order or request made by a foreign court or other foreign authority.
  • Review of the Anti-Terrorism Act: The upcoming Parliamentary review of this Act provides an opportunity for the Government of Canada to renew its commitment to ensure that human rights and freedoms are not unnecessarily infringed by national security and law enforcement measures.
  • Audits of information-sharing agreements and data mining activities: We also endorse the audit recommendations in the report and have initiated a compliance audit of the information handling practices of the Canadian Border Services Agency.

The legislative review of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act in 2006 will also provide an opportunity for the Government of Canada to consider the implications of international information-sharing for the protection of the personal information.

“There is a considerable degree of uncertainty and anxiety with the broader issue of trans-border exchanges of information, done by both public sector and private sector organizations,” said Ms. Stoddart. “The OPC has been raising these questions for some time. Canadians deserve to know how their personal information is being shared.”

The report released today contains a number of recommendations for the Government of Canada. The OPC , in partnership with the BC Information and Privacy Commissioner, would welcome the opportunity to discuss and address these recommendations further with the federal government.

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Media contact:

Renée Couturier
Media Relations
Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
Tel: (613) 995-0103
E-mail: rcouturier@priv.gc.ca
www.priv.gc.ca

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