Legal loophole ‘allows’ spying on Canadians

Private companies could swap sensitive customer information under a loophole in Canada’s new digital privacy law, witnesses told the Senate.

Disclosure of customer data to police under C-13, dubbed the cyber-bullying bill, has caught the majority of media attention. But a sister piece of legislation also rewrites Canada’s privacy laws in controversial new ways.

Bill S-4, the Digital Privacy Act, dictates how and when companies can share private customer data.

The bill allows for companies to gather and share information on customers without their consent if the company suspects a law or agreement has been broken.

“The exemption quite simply allows private sector spying on consumers without any oversight whatsoever,” said Geoffrey White, counsel for the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, to a Senate committee last week.

University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist told the committee that the bill will “expand the possibility of warrantless disclosure to anyone, not just law enforcement.”

Under the bill, the telecom would not be forced to provide such information. But they could do so voluntarily if they feel they have grounds.


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