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.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Building China's high-technology surveillance society, with help from the US 

Naomi Klein has an interesting piece in the most recent Rolling Stone on the emerging high-technology surveillance state being built in China, with help from some of largest US defence contractors:

China's All-Seeing Eye : Rolling Stone

... Now, as China prepares to showcase its economic advances during the upcoming Olympics in Beijing, Shenzhen is once again serving as a laboratory, a testing ground for the next phase of this vast social experiment. Over the past two years, some 200,000 surveillance cameras have been installed throughout the city. Many are in public spaces, disguised as lampposts. The closed-circuit TV cameras will soon be connected to a single, nationwide network, an all-seeing system that will be capable of tracking and identifying anyone who comes within its range — a project driven in part by U.S. technology and investment. Over the next three years, Chinese security executives predict they will install as many as 2 million CCTVs in Shenzhen, which would make it the most watched city in the world. (Security-crazy London boasts only half a million surveillance cameras.)

The security cameras are just one part of a much broader high-tech surveillance and censorship program known in China as "Golden Shield." The end goal is to use the latest people-tracking technology — thoughtfully supplied by American giants like IBM, Honeywell and General Electric — to create an airtight consumer cocoon: a place where Visa cards, Adidas sneakers, China Mobile cellphones, McDonald's Happy Meals, Tsingtao beer and UPS delivery (to name just a few of the official sponsors of the Beijing Olympics) can be enjoyed under the unblinking eye of the state, without the threat of democracy breaking out. With political unrest on the rise across China, the government hopes to use the surveillance shield to identify and counteract dissent before it explodes into a mass movement like the one that grabbed the world's attention at Tiananmen Square.

Remember how we've always been told that free markets and free people go hand in hand? That was a lie. It turns out that the most efficient delivery system for capitalism is actually a communist-style police state, fortressed with American "homeland security" technologies, pumped up with "war on terror" rhetoric. And the global corporations currently earning superprofits from this social experiment are unlikely to be content if the lucrative new market remains confined to cities such as Shenzhen. Like everything else assembled in China with American parts, Police State 2.0 is ready for export to a neighborhood near you....

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

China privacy law due next year 

According to China Daily, China will be enacting a privacy law in the next year or so:

Law on personal info 'next year'

...Zhou said the draft clarifies the legal duty of entities, especially enterprises, to protect personal information by following some basic principles.

For example, it says, an entity must specify the purpose personal information will be used for while collecting them. The entity has to make it clear that the information will not be used for any other purpose without the prior consent of the persons.

The draft bans any entity from providing personal information to a third party without the prior approval of the persons. Anyone found violating that could be fined and/or imprisoned, Zhou said.

There are exemptions, though. For instance, such information can be divulged to save a life or in public interest, or for criminal and tax investigations. To ensure press freedom, the media under certain conditions have also been exempted.

"The law has to protect personal rights, but it cannot disrupt the normal flow of information or social governance and supervision," Zhou said.

The draft's review has so far not been included in the legislation agenda of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the country's top legislature.

Experts have hailed the move to have such a law. "It's a milestone in privacy protection in China," Heilongjiang University civil law professor Sun Yi said.

China doesn't have clear legal provisions to protect privacy at present, so victims can't protect themselves even through lawsuits.

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

China Enacting a High-Tech Plan to Track People 

Today's New York Times has an interesting article on new surveillance technologies being built by American companies for use in China:

China Enacting a High-Tech Plan to Track People - New York Times

... Starting this month in a port neighborhood and then spreading across Shenzhen, a city of 12.4 million people, residency cards fitted with powerful computer chips programmed by the same company will be issued to most citizens.

Data on the chip will include not just the citizen’s name and address but also work history, educational background, religion, ethnicity, police record, medical insurance status and landlord’s phone number. Even personal reproductive history will be included, for enforcement of China’s controversial “one child” policy. Plans are being studied to add credit histories, subway travel payments and small purchases charged to the card.

Security experts describe China’s plans as the world’s largest effort to meld cutting-edge computer technology with police work to track the activities of a population and fight crime. But they say the technology can be used to violate civil rights....

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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Blocked! By the Great Firewall of China 

I don't know if I should be offended or flattered that this blog is blocked by the Great Firewall of China.

Check out the status of your URL here:

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Monday, January 09, 2006

China to adopt privacy law 

According to China Radio International, China is on the verge of adopting a general privacy law to protect citizens from "theft of information" and other such things:


China Drafts Law to Protect Personal Information

The State Council, China's Cabinet, has launched legislation procedures on personal information protection law in a bid to better safeguard citizens' privacy.

Media reports said a Chinese website publicly put nine thousand pieces of detailed personal data on sale, causing widespread social concern. The disclosure of private phone numbers, home and work place addresses and financial records seriously infringes on the privacy and life of the general public.

The current draft stipulates that personal information, as a part of a person's right of privacy, is a citizen's "intangible property", and those who steal other's personal information for financial gain are in violation of the law and shall be dully [sic]punished.

[Privacy] :: [China] :: [Privacy Law] :: [Identity Theft] :: [Personal Information]

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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

China introduces privacy law 

The China People's Daily is reporting that China is introducing a privacy law. I am reproducing the article in its entirety, since I had some trouble brining it up at all ...

People's Daily Online -- China to legislate for protection of personal information:

"The expert-suggested draft for the "Law for personal information protection of the People's Republic of China" has been brought out the other day.

As entrusted by the Information Office of the State Council the legislation was drafted by the subject group of some experts from the legal research institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Zhou Hanhua, chief of the subject-group and researcher of the Legal Research Institute of the CASS accepted the interview by the reporter the other day.

Leakage of information incurs big trouble: Just bought a house and gave birth to child business-dealers coming one after another.

"I have a feeling that my personal information is almost known to everybody without any privacy of my own as though I were a 'transparent figure'," said Mr. Xu with emotion recently, who's engaged in IT business. "I wanted to find a job a few months ago without sending out many personal resumes but numerous companies phoned me. I have just bought a new apartment and so far haven't got the key yet many building material dealers and household-moving companies phoned to ask me whether I like to buy sticks of furniture or any building materials. Last year when my wife just gave birth to a child I received a lot of advertisements about articles for babe's use to my home."

"In Chinese tradition personal rights are normally neglected and so the frequent happening of personal information being maliciously infringed." Zhou Hanhua, researcher of the Legal Institute of the CASS said, some schools to prevent from cheat in examination, or to strengthen internal administration installed close-circuit TV equipment for monitoring and so every action and behavior of students were under control. Some places collected more than 100 pieces of personal information when making various kinds of cards for social insurances or other e-cards. This harbors a great danger for abusive use of personal information.

To deal with the problems entailed from the emergence of an informationization society it is required by the Information Office of the State Council that the State Informationization Legislation be hastened. Starting to work on it from 2003, Zhou Hanhua said, the draft of the "Law for Personal Information Protection" as suggested by the expert group has now been completed and will soon be put on the agenda for legislation.

Cellular phone-number, home address, medical files and occupation information are all on the list for protection.

When mentioning the protection of personal information people will at once think of the protection of personal privacy said Zhou Hanhua. "What the 'Law for personal information protection' protects is not only the personal privacy of a citizen but rather a wider scope than the personal privacy, for instance: your cellular phone-number, home address, your medical files, and your occupation and something else. These may not fall into the category of personal privacy but are under the protection of the 'Law for Personal Information Protection'. And if you've delivered your resume to an employer's company it is liable for the company to keep the information for you. Should the other party make your personal information known to others it is considered to have violated the law no matter whether it is intentional or unintentional."

In addition, as to whether an image pick-up should be installed in a public place at will and how to define the behavior for a secret pick-up or recording, the law has laid down a stipulation about it.

For information protection attention better be paid in advance to regulate it from the very sources

The "Law for personal information protection" has to protect personal rights on the one hand Zhou Hanhua is of opinion, and on the other it must not obstruct the normal circulation of information. And for one thing it must offer full protection to the personal information and for another it has to take into consideration the necessary social governance and supervision.

The way for the victim to protect ones personal privacy in the past can more often than not be done by way of a lawsuit when the violation happens by demanding the violator to compensate, said Zhou Hanhua. Now the protection of personal information includes not only the protection after the event but also the interference beforehand, i.e. to regulate the behavior from the very head. For instance, some schools want to install video-pick-ups it should be done when being examined and approved.

Possible to incur criminal liability if violating personal information

According to the law at present, the violation of personal reputation can only be subjected to the liability in accordance with the civil law, Zhou Hanhua said. Once the "Law for personal information protection" is officially brought into force the violation of personal information may not only have to take up administrative and civil responsibilities or even criminal liabilities.

In alien countries the happening of violating personal information is liable to be sentenced to 2 to 3 years of imprisonment if it constitutes a crime, Zhou Hanhua said. How to take up the criminal responsibility in China must be referred to certain particular requirements in the criminal law. And the overseas practices may be taken over for our references.

By People's Daily Online"

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