USMCA Puts Privacy at Risk

MEDIA RELEASE

October 17, 2018

USMCA Puts Privacy at Risk

VANCOUVER, October 17, 2018 – The pending free trade agreement between Canada, Mexico, and the United States (USMCA) conflicts with existing provincial legislation around data localization and puts the privacy of British Columbians at risk.

The Freedom of Information and Privacy Association of British Columbia continues to support the data localization provision within BC’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).

The data localization provision, section 30.1 of the act, protects the privacy of British Columbians by mandating that the personal information collected by public bodies must be stored and accessed only in Canada, with some limited exceptions.

“Controlling where personal information flows, and who has access to it, is an essential tool in the ongoing and evolving process of protecting the privacy of British Columbians,” said FIPA executive director, Sara Neuert.

While data localization has been and continues to be an important step in maintaining and enhancing personal information protections that are in accordance with our Canadian values, Article 19.12 of the USMCA prohibits computing facilities from being located in a specific place.

The domestic data storage provision within FIPPA is a matter of political consensus within in British Columbia. We are calling on the provincial government to reaffirm its commitment to section 30.1 of FIPPA in light of the recent USMCA trade agreement.

Contact:

Sara Neuert, Executive Director
BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association
Email: Sara (at) fipa.bc.ca
Phone: 604-739-9788
Cell: 604-318-0031

BC FIPA’s Submission on NAFTA Consultation

July 18, 2017

FIPA’s Submission on NAFTA Consultation

With the US government’s extremely concerning list of objectives for the upcoming NAFTA negotiations put forth yesterday by the US Trade Representative, BC FIPA has sent Minister Freeland and Global Affairs Canada our submission regarding the dangers facing our information and privacy rights in the coming NAFTA negotiations.

BC’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act has been identified as a trade barrier by the Americans, who are looking to eliminate domestic data storage laws. Our information and privacy rights must not become a bargaining chip in negotiations about trade in goods and services. Read our submission in full here.

We also have an article in Policy Options that further highlights the importance of protecting domestic data storage laws. You can read it here.

**UPDATE**

October 3, 2017

BC FIPA submitted a written submission to the Standing Committee on International Trade highlighting the importance of domestic data storage laws, and how they must be protected during the NAFTA renegotiations. See our submission in full here.

Final text of Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement released; BC’s privacy laws in jeopardy

VANCOUVER, November 5, 2015 – The BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (FIPA) is strongly concerned for British Columbia’s privacy law, following the release of the final text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.

The group had been worried that provisions of the TPP—a multinational trade agreement between the U.S., Canada and ten other countries, which had been negotiated behind closed doors—would override BC’s requirements that sensitive data be stored in Canada.

Section 30.1 of our Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) clearly requires public bodies to “ensure that personal information in its custody or under its control is stored only in Canada and accessed only in Canada.” This section had been enacted in 2004 after public outcry over the outsourcing of BC’s pharmacare information to a US company.

Today, it was revealed that the TPP’s Electronic Commerce Chapter does indeed directly contradict the domestic data storage provisions in FIPPA.  It reads:

No Party shall require a covered person to use or locate computing facilities in that Party’s territory as a condition for conducting business in that territory. (14.13 s.2)

FIPA had hoped for a reservation to protect BC’s privacy laws, but there does not appear to be one.

“We cannot abide agreements that put our local laws—especially ones that protect Canadians’ sensitive personal information—at risk,” says FIPA President Michael Markwick. “This is simply unacceptable.”

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For interviews with FIPA President Michael Markwick, please contact:

Lindsey Bertrand, Program Director
BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association
lindsey@fipa.bc.ca | 604-739-9788

 

BC’s privacy law contravenes the TPP

Federal government summary states domestic data storage requirements are banned under TPP 

VANCOUVER, October 8, 2015 – The BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (FIPA) is expressing concern that certain legal requirements in BC’s privacy law will be undercut by the now-finalized Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal.

According to a summary of the TPP posted by Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada, the finalized agreement “includes provisions protecting the free flow of information across borders” and “prevents governments in TPP countries from requiring the use of local servers for data storage.” But as FIPA has pointed out before, these provisions directly contradict privacy laws in both BC and Nova Scotia, which require that their residents’ sensitive personal data—from educational records to medical records—be stored on Canadian soil.

“If the federal government summary is correct, then BC’s privacy law is at risk,” said FIPA Executive Director Vincent Gogolek. “It is unacceptable to have citizens’ privacy rights bargained away in a trade agreement.”

Section 30.1 of our Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) clearly requires public bodies to “ensure that personal information in its custody or under its control is stored only in Canada and accessed only in Canada.” This section was enacted in 2004 after public outcry over the outsourcing of BC’s pharmacare information to a US company.

There is no mention of reservations or carve-outs for BC’s privacy law in the summary of the TPP released by the federal government.

FIPA has used Freedom of Information requests to try to find out how the BC government has been discussing the TPP and FIPPA, so far without success. The first request—which asked about a conference call between the Ministry of Citizens’ Services and the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR)—yielded no records, and the second—which asked for Ministry of International Trade’s records relating to the TPP’s potential effects on FIPPA—has been delayed until November.

“We need to see the final text of the agreement to determine just what the federal government has signed on to,” Gogolek said.

Fortunately, a Special Committee of the Legislative Assembly is conducting a review of FIPPA, which will include hearing from witnesses. FIPA will be appearing on Friday, October 16th, and will be encouraging the Committee to call government officials to speak on the record about this vital issue.

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Contact:

Vincent Gogolek, Executive Director
BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association
vincent@fipa.bc.ca | (o) 604-739-9788 | (c) 604-318-0031