Friday, February 04, 2005

Canadian Privacy and the USA Patriot Act

Interesting how this has only now appeared on the US radar screens. When this was only about the British Columbia and Alberta governments, the only coverage was Canadian. Now that there is some small reaction out of Ottawa, it shows up in the US media ...

UPI Intelligence Watch - (United Press International):

"Washington, DC, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Because of security concerns related to the Patriot Act, the Canadian government will revise the wording of future federal contracts. Ottawa will attempt to blunt U.S. ability, granted under the act to tap into personal information about Canadians. The Canadian government is particularly concerned that the FBI might attempt to view sensitive Canadian data the government supplies to American firms doing business with federal departments in Ottawa. Ottawa has requested that all government agencies and departments conduct a "comprehensive assessment of risks" to Canadian information they release to U.S. companies when fulfilling work under contract. The Patriot Act gave the FBI broader access to the records of U.S. firms. Under its provisions, the FBI can apply to a U.S. court to force a business to allow access to its records, including information about Canadians, to assist with investigations involving prevention of terrorism or espionage. Canadian Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart says that if a Canadian federal entity hires an American company to process personal information about Canadians, then U.S. laws apply to the data if the work is being done in the United States. The federal Treasury Board is in charge of a working group that is drafting special clauses to be used in future business proposal requests and contracts. According a federal notice recently circulated to departments, the group is consulting with Stoddart's office on clauses "that we believe to be fundamental" to include in future request proposals and contracts. Treasury Board spokesman Robert Makichuk said the changes would "further enhance and clarify existing protection" for such things as establishing custody and control of data, ensuring confidentiality of information and setting conditions related to use and disclosure."

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