As government prepares to ram C-51 through Senate, OpenMedia launches crowdsourced Privacy Action Plan to address Canada’s stark privacy deficit
Canada’s Privacy Plan is packed with proposals to restore privacy and roll back surveillance, based on ideas crowdsourced from over 125,000 Canadians
"We asked Canadians what they want when it comes to online privacy and the results were clear: more oversight and an end to warrantless government surveillance,” said OpenMedia communications assistant Stephanie Schoenhoff, who co-authored the plan. “Our report reflects the contributions of thousands of Canadians and the country's leading privacy experts. It’s evident Canadians want strong protections against threats to our democratic rights and freedoms in the digital age."
Here’s what privacy advocates and experts have to say about Canada’s Privacy Plan:
"Canadians have clearly demonstrated how much privacy matters to them," said CJFE Executive Director Tom Henheffer. "It's time for the government to take notice."
Sheldon Clare, President & CEO of the National Firearms Association, said: “Canada’s National Firearms Association supports the key recommendations of the Privacy Report. Our members are especially concerned about privacy of their information, and the pressing need for citizen oversight of bureaucratic action, police investigations, and intelligence gathering activities. Protection of civil rights is a cornerstone of the NFA’s activities in support of freedom and mutual respect for all Canadian residents.”
Connie Fournier, co-founder of principled conservative website Free Dominion, said: "Canadians of all political stripes must be vigilant in guarding our right to privacy. Without privacy, all of our fundamental freedoms are in jeopardy."
Joseph Hickey, Executive Director of the Ontario Civil Liberties Association, said: "The government should never collect the personal information of a citizen without express consent, except in a justified criminal investigation, and only with strict independent oversight, with transparency on the oversight process."
Laurence Kearley, President of the Canadian Access and Privacy Association, said: "Canada's Privacy Plan" presents a comprehensive and compelling portrait of Canada's growing privacy deficit along with solid recommendations for fixing this dangerous situation."
Sharon Polsky, President of the Privacy and Access Council of Canada, said: “Genuine privacy and access-to-information are fundamental to an effective democracy but have become little more than buzzwords. Canadians have grown tired of non-partisan Charter-protected rights and freedoms being politicized and undermined by government and elected representatives. The Privacy Plan offers pragmatic recommendations for remedying Canada’s privacy deficit.”
Polsky continued: “Canadians are unequivocal in their desire for government and elected representatives to cease manipulating laws and public policy for their own gain and international commerce, at the expense of public accountability, individual privacy, democratic freedoms and personal security. The Privacy Plan recommendations for remedying Canada’s privacy deficit would go a long way to strengthening personal privacy and government accountability — without jeopardizing national security.”
The report sets out high-level policy recommendations to address Canadians’ concerns:
Get A Warrant: require government authorities to obtain a warrant to access Canadians’ sensitive personal information. The report also proposes tougher privacy laws to roll back the information disclosure provisions of Bill C-51 and ensure government agencies use personal information strictly for the purpose it is provided. Despite the Supreme Court’s R. v. Spencer decision last year, much work remains to be done to prevent warrantless access to Canadians’ information.
End Mass Surveillance: halt all surveillance activities that involve the warrantless collection of Canadians’ personal information, including the bulk collection of deeply revealing metadata. We also propose that surveillance activities require judicial, not political authorization, and that the government cease collecting and analyzing what Canadians say on social media.
Embrace Accountability: Ensure strong, independent oversight and review bodies for the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). Rein in the steep costs of surveillance by requiring the Parliamentary Budget Officer and Auditor General to develop clear cost projections for surveillance activities.
Organizations endorsing the report’s Key Recommendations include: Canadian Access and Privacy Association, Canadian Constitution Foundation, Canadian Institute of Access and Privacy Professionals, Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, Free Dominion, Greenpeace, Leadnow.ca, National Firearms Association, Ontario Civil Liberties Association, PEN Canada, Pink Triangle Press, Public Service Alliance of Canada B.C. Region, Privacy and Access Council of Canada, and the Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic.
The Tyee is OpenMedia’s official media partner for the launch of Canada’s Privacy Plan.
Canada’s Privacy Plan is available to read at PrivacyPlan.ca. The full report can also be downloaded as a PDF. A copy of the high-level recommendations can be downloaded from https://PrivacyPlan.ca/KeyRecommendations
OpenMedia is a network of people and organizations working to safeguard the possibilities of the open Internet. We work toward informed and participatory digital policy.
OpenMedia has joined with over 75 major organizations and over two dozen academic experts to form the Protect Our Privacy Coalition, which is the largest pro-privacy coalition in Canadian history. The Coalition is calling for effective legal measures to protect the privacy of every resident of Canada against intrusion by government entities.
Communications Manager, OpenMedia