How do they score? We rated the new privacy policies of all the major parties – and every single one failed on key best practices.
Canada’s political parties have failed to meet basic privacy expectations. Now we’re calling on them to protect personal information and empower citizens.
Canada’s political parties have just failed a big opportunity to protect the highly private data they hold on us.
Canada’s recently-passed Elections Modernization Act requires that all federal political parties have a policy for protecting the personal information of Canadians, and to publish these plans on their websites.
The Act falls short of the past recommendation of Canada’s Privacy Commissioner, privacy experts and civil society groups, which recommended making Canada’s political parties subject to existing federal privacy law, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (“PIPEDA”), but politicians voted down amendments that would have better protected our data.
To help restore trust that parties will respect privacy rights, Canada’s own Chief Electoral Officer and the federal Privacy Commissioner issued a set of guidelines for what these policies should contain.
But frighteningly, when the deadline for posting the policies was up, we reviewed the parties’ new policies against key recommendations – and not a single party even came close to meeting these basic best practices.
For some guidelines, many parties do not meet the requirements at all – such as informing individuals if they have been subject to a data breach. In other cases, only a portion of a guideline may have been addressed. An example of this is the guideline to ‘allow individuals to access and correct your personal information.’ While individuals are all allowed to correct their information, no parties actually allow users to access their information – therefore rendering any potential corrections impossible, as users do not know what information they need to correct.
It’s clear that we can’t trust the parties to regulate themselves. The low standards they've set for their treatment of our data just won't cut it.
In the wake of the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal, the constant talk of misinformation, and the growing number of severe data breaches affecting people in Canada, our political parties should see the value in stepping up to embrace transparency and data protection.
We’re calling on Canada’s party leaders to commit to reforming our privacy laws to ensure political parties are held accountable, as part of their 2019 election platforms.
Join that call by sending a message to party leaders and writing a letter about this in your local paper. And make sure to ask any candidates and party representatives in your local area about their party’s stance on this - and tell them why it’s an election issue for you.
With the federal election looming in October, we have a huge chance to fix this issue. If enough of us speak out right now, we can show the party leaders that votes are riding on their willingness to take action to protect our privacy.
Read more about our scoring methods here