The Canadian Privacy Law Blog: Developments in privacy law and writings of a Canadian privacy lawyer, containing information related to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (aka PIPEDA) and other Canadian and international laws.

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The author of this blog, David T.S. Fraser, is a Canadian privacy lawyer who practices with the firm of McInnes Cooper. He is the author of the Physicians' Privacy Manual. He has a national and international practice advising corporations and individuals on matters related to Canadian privacy laws.

For full contact information and a brief bio, please see David's profile.

Please note that I am only able to provide legal advice to clients. I am not able to provide free legal advice. Any unsolicited information sent to David Fraser cannot be considered to be solicitor-client privileged.

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The views expressed herein are solely the author's and should not be attributed to his employer or clients. Any postings on legal issues are provided as a public service, and do not constitute solicitation or provision of legal advice. The author makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained herein or linked to. Nothing herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel.

This web site is presented for informational purposes only. These materials do not constitute legal advice and do not create a solicitor-client relationship between you and David T.S. Fraser. If you are seeking specific advice related to Canadian privacy law or PIPEDA, contact the author, David T.S. Fraser.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Privacy Commissioner urges changes to Anti-Terrorism Act 

The Anti-Terrorism Act is up for review and a number of interested parties are making submissions to Parliament for its overhaul. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner has issued a press release (below) outlining its suggestions for reform:

Contained surveillance and increased oversight needed in Anti-terrorism Act to protect against loss of privacy rights:

"OTTAWA, May 9 - Greater accountability, transparency and oversight of agencies involved in national security is needed to curtail the cumulative impact of the Anti-terrorism Act on the privacy rights of Canadians, according to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Jennifer Stoddart. The Commissioner today urged a Senate Special Committee to critically examine the appropriateness and effectiveness of the extraordinary powers granted under the Anti-terrorism Act and the associated loss of established privacy rights.

"No one denies the reality of the threat that the Act was intended to address, but we must ask ourselves whether what the Act gains us in security justifies the sacrifice of our privacy and other rights enshrined in our democracy," said Ms. Stoddart.

In a submission to the Committee, the Commissioner called for the Government of Canada to carefully examine the continued need for the Anti- terrorism Act and to conduct an empirical assessment of the proportionality of the measures adopted in the interests of anti-terrorism.

"Canadians are increasingly aware of their privacy rights and expect a reasonable and balanced approach to a national strategy to combat terrorism with greater accountability, transparency and oversight. The absence of serious evidence of the effectiveness of the extraordinary broad powers under the Anti-terrorism Act need to be questioned so security threats do not end up abolishing the very freedoms and democracy we claim to be defending," said Ms. Stoddart.

The Commissioner tabled a series of recommendations to strike the right balance between achieving national security objectives without unnecessarily encroaching on privacy rights including:


  • contained surveillance and increased oversight to include greater judicial oversight over activities of law enforcement and intelligence agencies;
  • greater transparency and openness to balance disclosure and national security interests;
  • creation of a security-cleared special advocate position to challenge arguments that information should not be disclosed to the affected party or before the judge;
  • continued review of the Anti-terrorism Act and the Public Safety Act;
  • development of a privacy management framework including a thorough review of outsourcing of personal information and the development of contractual clauses to mitigate against privacy risks;
  • strengthened reporting requirements to Parliament on a periodic basis to describe anti-terrorism programs and the effectiveness of measures to detect, stop or deter terrorist acts;
  • support for a National Security Committee of Parliamentarians but a recommendation that the Committee address, as part of its mandate, the need to reconcile privacy protection with national security requirements; and
  • a long overdue reform of the Privacy Act to examine its adequacy in protecting personal information collected, processed and shared by the Canadian government.

According to the Commissioner, the security and protection of privacy rights need not be seen as a trade-off, where one is sacrificed in the interest of the other. Both can be achieved with well-designed law, prudent policy and effective but not excessive oversight.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada is mandated by Parliament to act as an ombudsman, advocate and guardian of the privacy and protection of personal information rights of Canadians.

For more information, click on the following links:

For further information:

Renée Couturier, Acting Director, Public Education and Communications,
Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada,
(613) 995-0103,"

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