Since September 2001, the RCMP have been buying and storing personal information on Canadians from private data brokers, which have been used by U.S. authorities to combat terrorism even though the information they sell has been criticized for its inaccuracy.
Data brokers collect personal information from all kinds of sources, ranging from warranty forms, gold credit card use, travel agencies and donations to charitable and religious groups. Traditionally, the information is sold to third parties, usually marketers looking to target a consumer niche.
Privacy experts say the RCMP’s purchase and storage of such information raises questions about the reach of law-enforcement agencies into the lives of Canadians, particularly in the wake of the Arar inquiry.
Full article by Andrew Mayeda and Gary Dimmock, the Ottawa Citizen, September 30, 2006.