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.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

UWO pension and the USA Patriot Act 

According to an item on the Western News, the University of Western Ontario is entering into an arrangement to have a US-based company administer the faculty pension. That has made at least one person unhappy that Canadian faculty info will be within the reach of the USA Patriot Act.

Communications and Public Affairs

Senator member Mike Carroll wants written assurance faculty pension information will never be turned over to secret U.S.intelligence courts. But he isn't holding his breath.

So why be concerned if you're not a terrorist?


The statement seems to be saying that they might well transmit our pension data across international boundaries - and this of course would in itself bring such data within reach of the Patriot Act

Ok, but so what? No terrorists here, right? Why worry? Actually, for several reasons. U.S. FIS courts operate in secrecy with little or no oversight (it's a crime to reveal an action of this court and a felony not to comply with an order to turn over records). As any number of academic bodies in the U.S. (including a number of academic Senates just a tad more activist than ours) have suggested, the wide-ranging authority granted under the Patriot Act poses a threat to civil liberties and creates a climate of fear that undermines academic freedom. In addition, the combination of such wide ranging-power with strict secrecy means that mistakes affecting ordinary (and innocent) people are easy to make and hard to correct (think Ted Kennedy and the "no fly" list).

U.S. academics have no choice at the moment. They are subject to the Patriot Act. But it seems to me entirely inappropriate that the Western Administration should so casually enter into an institutional arrangement that likely puts our personal data within reach of U.S. courts acting under the authority of that Act. At Senate tomorrow, I will be asking the Administration to seek explicit written assurances from Buck Consultants Canada that they will not be shipping our data across international boundaries and would not comply with a FIS court order to turn over data.

Simple. questions that should have straightforward answers. Anyone want to bet we'll ever see those answers? I personally think it unlikely, unless of course someone in SLB decides it might improve our grade on the Globe and Mail scorecard.

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