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Digital surveillance in Canada: proposed legislation would radically expand online data collection

by Dan Fournier

Proposed legislation currently being debated in Parliament would radically expand online data the Canadian government and private entities can access, share, and sell.

Canadians should be aware of measures contained in Bill C-26, an act related to cyber security, and Bill C-27, an act about consumer privacy protection and the protection of personal information.

Bill C-26 poses numerous concerns, as outlined by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) last September. The CCLA said it risks undermining privacy rights and the principles of accountable governance and judicial due process, which should be “the fabric of Canadian democracy.”

The CCLA further outlined numerous concerns about C-26 and offered suggestions on how to “fix it.”

In a report titled “Under Surveillance: (Mis)use of Technologies in Emergency Responses, Global lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic,” the CCLA outlines five overarching trends of concern.

Trend 1: The repurposing of existing security measures

Trend 2: The silencing of civil society

Trend 3: The risk of abuse of personal data

Trend 4: The influential role of private companies

Trend 5: The normalization of surveillance beyond the pandemic

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