Canadian Patriot Act redux

The article posted in May on the Canadian Patriot Act being introduced to the House of Commons didn’t seem to go much further than “preaching to the choir”. I will try to summarize the changes, which will hopefully show you how Canada’s privacy landscape went from one of the top 2 in the world, to near the bottom, in this single change to legislation.

While you may have read about the other changes to PIPEDA at the end of May, the following changes were conveniently left to the end of the document, and most people didn’t make it that far. In fact, I don’t believe I’ve seen any mainstream media report on these drastic and impacting changes to the privacy of all Canadians.

  • a new provision allowing the disclosure of personal information without consent for private sector investigations and fraud prevention will replace a regulatory process that has been burdensome for small and medium-size organizations.

Your personal information is no longer only provided to law enforcement for investigations, businesses can now provide your information to any company claiming to do investigations or fraud prevention. As one of the top privacy and security investigative organizations in British Columbia as of writing this, we don’t want to see those organizations have such sweeping access to your information!

  • amendments would make it clear that organizations may collaborate with government institutions, such as law enforcement and security agencies that have requested personal information, in the absence of a warrant, subpoena, or order.

This is a major change. No longer do law enforcement or security agencies require a warrant, subpoena or order to request, to receive your personal information, from any business in Canada!

  • new provisions would prohibit organizations from notifying an individual about the disclosure of their personal information to law enforcement and security agencies where the government institution to whom the information was disclosed objects.

In case you didn’t think these changes were significant enough, companies that have provided your personal information are no longer permitted to tell you that they have provided your information to law enforcement or any security agency if those agencies object to that disclosure.

What should you do if you’re upset with these changes? Contact your MP, and write them as well as your local media. These changes, contained in Bill 29, have only had first reading, and it’s not too late for changes.

Industry Canada press release
Bill C-29 @ parl.gc.ca

Status of the Bill