A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Privacy Act reform, the fact that the Federal Commissioner put forward some thoughts on how to do it, and my own thoughts about how to maybe go even a little further. It’s a topic I think more Canadians should be aware of and I wish – oh, how I wish – that members of Parliament took seriously.
Case in point is this week’s article (see below), about the OPC investigating the RCMP’s possible use of stingray technology. A complaint was filed by a privacy advocate working for OpenMedia that alleges that the use of the technology may violate the Privacy Act. At first blush, it seems like an appropriate place to lodge such a complaint. After all, the technology is supposedly able to intercept everyone’s cellphone conversations much the way Batman could do in a fictional movie from a few years ago. Clearly, any privacy pro watching that movie cringed when the thought was introduced and to now see the tech materialize for the real world raises a whole host of privacy issues.
My point is that the complaint must be investigated through the lens of a law that was written in the 1970s. Seriously.
The big question is going to be whether the collection of personal information through the use of the technology was needed for a legitimate operating program or activity. That’s it! The Commissioner cannot provide his opinion on the charter rights that might be violated by such an activity. The Commissioner cannot opine on the reasonableness of the technology. All he can do, at the end of the day, is make a recommendation (not an order) with respect to whether or not the collection of information through the technology was necessary for an operating program or activity. Give me a break.
Ok. Now I’m grumpy and have to go relax. I hear there's some sort of new "Batman" movie in the theatres.
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