A diverse and growing group of rights, health, union and other organizations has launched a province-wide campaign to demand that the BC government drop its proposed deal with the Maximus corporation because of the privacy implications of the USA PATRIOT Act.
The Right to Privacy Campaign believes that contracting out the administrative functions of BC’s Medical Services Plan (MSP) and PharmaCare to the American corporation Maximus Inc. will place British Columbians’ confidential health and related information within easy reach of the FBI and, through the FBI, the entire array of American government agencies.
Privacy Commissioner calls for submissions
BC’s Privacy Commissioner has launched a public inquiry to review the impact of the U.S. Patriot Act on government plans to contract out the MSP. He has invited submissions from American and Canadian experts and the general public and expects to issue his report by August 13, 2004. The Campaign is urging British Columbians to send submissions expressing their views about the Maximus deal.
Request for Submissions – Assessing USA Patriot Act Implications for Privacy Compliance under British Columbia’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act
The primary goal of the Right to Privacy Campaign is to ensure that there is “no contracting out by the Government of BC of information or information management, such as MSP or PharmaCare, to any company subject to foreign laws that violate the privacy rights of Canadians, like the USA PATRIOT Act”.
“We are on the edge of a new and frightening era in which surveillance of citizens by governments and their private-sector partners could become the dominant reality of our society – in other words, an era in which Orwell’s ‘Big Brother’ vision could actually be realized,” said Darrell Evans, Executive Director of the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association.
“Whether or not we go over that edge and create what has been called a “surveillance society” will depend on how willing citizens are to draw a line and say “no further” to government attempts to probe into and record the facts of our private lives.”
The Right to Privacy Campaign website features information on the Privacy Commissioner’s inquiry, current legal actions, backgrounders, and suggested action steps for organizations and citizens. Included is a section with easy-to-follow suggestions for preparing a submission to the Privacy Commissioner.