Target: Chantal Bernier, Interim Privacy Commissioner of Canada
Goal: Protect private citizens’ wireless communications data in Canada
The Canadian government is collecting alarmingly large amounts of user data from social media and telecommunications companies. Recent revelations have shown that 1.2 million requests were made for user data in 2011 alone, most of them granted without a warrant. The information is being passed on without customers’ knowledge or consent to government and law enforcement agencies.
Though lead Canadian telecoms claim that the requests are only for “basic subscriber data,” privacy experts say that the information could easily be linked with customers’ online identities. It has been revealed that at least one major telecom has allowed the government to completely mirror, or copy, all subscriber communications.
As if this wasn’t enough, the government is now seeking to broaden its data collection powers. Amendments to the Digital Privacy Act and the the Lawful Access Bill would allow for-profit corporations to request access to the same data, and would protect these corporations from any legal repercussions.
Section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the right to privacy. It has been previously determined by the Supreme Court of Canada that this expectation of privacy applies to wireless communications, even when hosted by a third party.
The Canadian government’s data requests are not only invasive, but unconstitutional. In order to protect the privacy of Canadian citizens, it is imperative that the privacy commissioner conduct a review of the government’s massive data-gathering operation. Your signature on this petition will demand a public and transparent investigation into all requests for the personal data of Canadian citizens.
Dear Commissioner Bernier,
Recent revelations have exposed a massive data-gathering operation by the Canadian government. In 2011, the government made over a million requests for customer data to social media and telecommunications companies. In almost all of these cases, the data is being accessed without a court-appointed warrant, allowing for broad surveillance of innocent citizens.
Though the data gathered is just “basic user information,” this can be enough to tie a customer’s real identity to their online history. In the case of one company, an exact copy of all telecommunications traffic is being provided to government organizations.
This mass data gathering is an outrageous affront to the right to privacy guaranteed by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I ask that the Office of the Privacy Commissioner conduct a public inquiry into the government’s data collection program in order to determine its constitutionality.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Robert S Donovan via Flickr Creative Commons