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and Cambridge Analytica has highlighted how individuals struggle to protect their privacy online, and how Canada’s out-of-date privacy laws are failing to protect us.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