WATERLOO — As corporations and states use increasingly invasive means to collect, store and utilize personal information about our day to day lives for profit, data protection is emerging as one of the major issues of our time. Data is exceedingly valuable and its wholesale collection and misuse is a credible threat to democracy.
At present, Canadians are inadequately protected from misleading information and the manipulation that is made possible by unfettered collection of personal data. Everything from the ads we see on Google to which political party calls us for support can be influenced by this collection and steer the decisions we make. This is unacceptable.
“Last year, Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien warned that Canada is far behind the European Union and other countries when it comes to our privacy laws,” said Green Party Leader Elizabeth May. “It’s shocking that we have such inadequate laws governing how our own political parties handle citizens’ personal data. It’s time to tighten our privacy laws.”
The need for improved privacy laws that better protect Canadians stretches far beyond political parties, however. Corporations, and our own government, must also be compelled to improve their practices and adhere to laws that better protect Canadians. To achieve this, a Green government will prohibit warrantless intrusions on Canadians’ communications, ban cyber surveillance programs that use bulk data collection, end the routine surveillance of Canadian protesters and NGOs, and significantly increase the powers of the Privacy Commissioner. We will require companies to respect the “right to be forgotten” and create mandatory data breach reporting for all government departments, companies, banks and political parties.
Finally, the Green Party of Canada endorses the recommendations of leading Canadian businessman and Centre for Digital Rights founder Jim Balsillie’s recommendations for legislating stronger privacy protections, which include banning personalized online advertising for elections, providing effective whistleblower protections for those who expose abuses of data, and creating an international institution for nations to address digital cooperation, enforcement, and stability on a global scale.
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