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