Protect Canadians: Reform our privacy laws!

 Protect Canadians: Reform our privacy laws!

The recent Facebook data scandal has highlighted how privacy laws are failing to protect us. Lawmakers have a responsibility to protect the personal information of Canadians — and right now, our laws do not ensure that we are safe from these kinds of practices.

The Cambridge Analytica revelations have shown just how widespread this problem is. But Canada’s privacy laws lack adequate enforcement powers, and they don’t apply to Canada’s political parties — among other problems.

Call on ministers today to commit to reforming our inadequate privacy laws, and ensure Canadians’ personal data is protected.

Read the full letter here

To: The Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Cc: The Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of Democratic Institutions;

The Honourable Scott Brison, President of the Treasury Board of Canada, Acting Minister of Democratic Institutions;

Daniel Therrien, Privacy Commissioner of Canada

 

Today, Canadians are asking you to take firm steps towards long-overdue reforms of our privacy laws.

The recent data scandal involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytica has highlighted how individuals struggle to protect their privacy online, and how Canada’s out-of-date privacy laws are failing to protect us.

Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. Greater legal protections for our rights will give the Canadian government more power to take action should other incidents like this occur.

The acts that govern data privacy in the public and private sector must be updated to keep up with our changing digital world. We ask that you urgently commit to a review and reform of PIPEDA and the Privacy Act.

Crucial protections are currently missing from PIPEDA, such as enforcement powers which would force non-compliant organizations to meet their privacy obligations.

Additionally, the fact that political parties are exempt from privacy legislation presents a significant potential conflict of interest, particularly in cases such as the Cambridge Analytica one. There are already questions about the Liberals' involvement with this scandal, as the party has made direct payments to the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower, Christopher Wylie. This is compounded by the existing privacy exemptions for political parties, and leaves Canadians convinced the current system is not working in our best interest.

We need guarantees that our governments' political interests will not take precedence over our privacy and security. And with federal elections due in 2019, we need to safeguard our democracy and protect against undue influence stemming from online privacy violations.

We ask that you commit to reforming Canada's privacy laws — both PIPEDA and the Privacy Act — to bring our privacy protections into the 21st century. We also ask that you publish the analysis requested of CSE on the recent events and how to strengthen our protections, and that the Office of the Privacy Commissioner continue to pursue Facebook for answers on whether any Canadians were among the affected Facebook profiles.

Thank you.

[Your Name Here]

 

OpenMedia takes protecting your data seriously. Information you provide for a petition is recorded on our secure system, and it is sent only to the recipient of the petition. We will not ever sell your data. You can read more about how we take care of your information at our privacy policy page.

Revelations by Canadian whistleblower Christopher Wylie have exposed how Facebook and other social media and data broker companies have harvested and exploited information about the private social media activity of millions of people around the world. It is alleged that Cambridge Analytica inappropriately collected information from the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million users.

This information was used by to build psychographic profiles that were then used for election campaigning and to influence political outcomes. So far, we have information that links this to the U.S. federal election, and the U.K.'s Brexit vote — but the full scope of how this system has been utilized remains unclear.1

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has opened an investigation into the alleged unauthorized access and use of Facebook user profiles. Commissioner Daniel Therrien has confirmed, “The first step will be to confirm with the company whether the personal information of Facebook users in Canada was affected.” 2

Canada’s acting Minister for Democratic Institutions has publicly stated that he would be open to strengthening federal privacy laws even further to better defend those who share their information online. His office has reached out to the Communications Security Establishment to ask them to “do an analysis of these recent events and to consider other ways that we can further strengthen the protection of our democratic institutions.” 3

Political parties are not currently covered under Canada's existing privacy laws — which make us incredibly vulnerable to the same types of campaign manipulation happening right here at home. It's going to take an immense amount of pressure to convince our government to give up its exemptions, and bring Canada's privacy laws up to date. We hope you will join us.4

This action is hosted by:

Footnotes:
[1] How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook Data of Millions: New York Times
[2] Privacy Commissioner launches Facebook investigation: Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
[3] NDP Wants Trudeau To Raise Facebook Data Scandal At G7: Huffington Post
[4] Liberals paid $100,000 in 2016 to Cambridge Analytica whistleblower: The Toronto Star

 

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Press: Katy Anderson | Phone: +1 (888) 441-2640 ext. 1 | Office: +1 (844) 891-5136 | katy@openmedia.org