FIPA has submitted comments on the federal government’s Lawful Access Consultation Document to the Department of Justice, Industry Canada, and the Solicitor General today. The federal government initiated consultations earlier this year and BC FIPA hosted two workshops on the Lawful Access proposals and received input from over 45 groups and individuals that have helped inform its position.
FIPA disagrees with the government’s views with regards to the level of privacy that should be accorded to emails, with the expansion of police powers to unprecedented levels (rather than simply extending the same level of power to new technologies), with the promotion of new powers despite a lack of evidence of the need or effectiveness of these powers, and with the vagueness of the proposals.
FIPA recommends that electronic communications be held to a high threshold before it can be accessed and that legislation be amended to reflect this threshold, that government put together a well-argued system for privacy protection for private communication that is independent of form of communication, that the government provide the evidence that forms the basis for these proposals, that government present draft legislation based on the comments provided in submissions like this one, and that the government provide the public with an opportunity to comment once it has put together the information requested in these recommendations.
We must be vigilant to ensure that the right to privacy of Canadian citizens is only limited by such measures that are truly required, reasonable, demonstrably justified, effective and proportionate to the ends to be achieved. The proposals in the Consultation Document show clearly that these requirements have not been met.
Read the full submission (pdf).
BC FIPA has made submission to the Minister of Management Services, the Hon. Sandy Santori, regarding the ongoing process of reform of BC’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (“FIPPA” or “the Act”).
Our submission comments on the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Amendment Act, 2002; our recommendations for additional amendments to the Act this fall; and, our suggestions for action on other issues affecting freedom of information and privacy that we hope will be on the agenda this fall.
Read the full submission (pdf).
BC FIPA has sent a letter to Senator Nicholas W. Taylor, Chair of the Standing Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources regarding the creation of a quasi-governmental body if Bill C-27 is enacted.
BC FIPA is concerned that this body has significant power over decisions that affect the public, responsibility for enormous spending decisions, and as currently defined would be fundamentally unaccountable to Parliament or to the Canadian public. BC FIPA urges the Committee to propose an amendment to Bill C-27 that would extend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act to the Waste Management Organization.
BC FIPA believes that democracy is both degraded and diminished when large sectors of government authority are placed beyond the accountability and openness measures of these Acts.
Read the full letter (doc).
BC FIPA has released “Personal Health Information and the Right to Privacy in Canada: An overview of statutory, common law, voluntary and constitutional privacy protection”, a law reform report prepared by Susan Prosser of the BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre (BCPIAC).
Confidentiality and informed consent form the backbone of the medical system. As Bruce Phillips, the federal Privacy Commissioner, argued in his 1996-97 Annual Report, “an individual’s right to control the disclosure of personal medical information should be paramount. That right should be overruled only in the face of an overwhelming and compelling public interest (or to provide the patient emergency care).”
If the federal and provincial governments fail to pass legislation which protects individuals’ rights to privacy, it will be up to the courts to decide under what circumstances individuals have a right to a reasonable expectation of privacy and whether legislation that permits either use or disclosure to third parties without consent passes constitutional muster.
Download the report (pdf).