Saturday, February 24, 2007

RCMP seeks easier access to personal information

The Parliamentary Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics continues its five year review of PIPEDA, most recently hearing from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on Tuesday and the Privacy Commissioner on Wednesday.

The RCMP is calling for lowering the bar in PIPEDA to allow greater access to personal information in the course of investigations. The Act, as it is currently in force, allows organizations to provide personal information without consent to law enforcement in certain circumstances. Section 7(3)(c.1)(iii) of PIPEDA allows this, but only where the law enforcement agency has "lawful authority to obtain the information":

Disclosure without knowledge or consent

(3) For the purpose of clause 4.3 of Schedule 1, and despite the note that accompanies that clause, an organization may disclose personal information without the knowledge or consent of the individual only if the disclosure is ...

(c.1) made to a government institution or part of a government institution that has made a request for the information, identified its lawful authority to obtain the information and indicated that
(i) it suspects that the information relates to national security, the defence of Canada or the conduct of international affairs,

(ii) the disclosure is requested for the purpose of enforcing any law of Canada, a province or a foreign jurisdiction, carrying out an investigation relating to the enforcement of any such law or gathering intelligence for the purpose of enforcing any such law, or

(iii) the disclosure is requested for the purpose of administering any law of Canada or a province;

Representatives of the RCMP told the committee this requirement is the force's largest single impediment in child exploitation investigations. The force would like the ability to get pesonal information even in circumstances where they don't have enough to justify a warrant.

The Privacy Commissioner is not at all impressed.

For media coveage, see: Federal watchdog and RCMP battle privacy protection.

And for some earlier discussions on this and related topics, see label:warrants.

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