Once again, the topic of privacy and political parties is in the news this week. Privacy Commissioner of Canada Philippe Dufresne appeared before a parliamentary committee where he emphasized the need for robust laws, with oversight which would force political parties to play fair with our personal information.
I then saw a post on LinkedIn suggesting our prime minister said something like he didn't think it was actually necessary. A real shame, but no surprise.
I think it's high time politicians are governed by a set of rules the rest of the world has to follow. The proposal, at this stage, is to make amendments to the Elections Act requiring political parties to adopt privacy policies. That's it! A pretty toothless suggestion and one I hope gets revised in line with what the commissioner was proposing during his appearance.
In Canada, we have 10 Fair Information Principles the private-sector is forced to abide by. Considering the vast amounts of personal information political parties collect, process and manipulate, not to mention the impact elections can have in our country, they should be held to the same standards. I can't imagine one good reason political parties in Canada shouldn't be required to follow those 10 principles.
They are giving themselves a free pas. It's is frustrating and can only be seen as self-serving. And it's been a problem for way too long. We've seen parties adopt some pretty sketchy privacy practices, to say the least, like using facial recognition and stopping only when a commissioner starts to look into the matter publicly. Without a more robust legal regime, these examples are surely going to multiply and become more and more serious in their egregiousness.
I think it's time for the privacy community to encourage members of Parliament and demand they listen to their officer of Parliament. Can you tell this is something I'm a little excited and frustrated about? So, how about it? Will you join me?
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