Canada privacy czar warns against spies trawling social media

Jan 28, 2014
A view of the Facebook homepage on May 6, 2012

Canada's interim privacy commissioner on Tuesday urged lawmakers to crack down on government spies who trawl without cause on social media websites to gather people's personal data.

"It is our view that (government) departments should not access on social media sites unless they can demonstrate a direct correlation to legitimate government business," said Interim Privacy Commissioner Chantal Bernier.

In a special report to Parliament, Bernier noted that technical capabilities for surveillance have "grown exponentially" in the digital age.

Canadians meanwhile are posting an unprecedented amount of personal information online, for example, on website Facebook.

Bernier warned that this "has the potential to become the predominant collection channel" of spy agencies.

She said information often is posted online with an expectation of privacy.

"The public availability of personal information on the Internet does not render personal information non-personal," she said.

The report calls for the development of guidelines for the collection, use and dissemination of intelligence from online sources and social network sites.

It also urges increased oversight of the spy agency Canadian Security Intelligence Service and electronics eavesdropping agency Communications Security Establishment Canada.

It also called for Canada's Privacy Act, which has remained essentially unrevised since 1983, to be modernized.

Explore further: Social media sackings risk stifling journalistic expression

Related Stories

Watchdog: Facebook violates Canadian privacy law

Jul 16, 2009

(AP) -- Canada's privacy commissioner says the online social networking site Facebook breaches Canadian law by keeping users personal information indefinitely after members close their accounts.

Recommended for you

ICANN chief stepping down in early 2016

May 21, 2015

The head of the group that oversees all Internet addresses will step down early next year, after a plan to end US oversight of the key nonprofit organization.

How alternative currencies could catch on and cash in

May 21, 2015

Alternatives to cash, like Bitcoin and Uber, may never replace the coins in our pockets or paper bills in our wallets, but they are creating significant social and economic impacts, and with some design adjustments, ...

Spotify introduces video, radio service

May 20, 2015

While saying that it is still a music company at heart, Spotify says it is expanding its lineup to include podcasts, news radio and video streaming.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

thatsitalright
not rated yet Jan 29, 2014
1. Thank god they didn't say "trolling"

2. If Canada's intelligence agency isn't collecting this data, they should get an award for being the only ones on the planet who isn't

3. I pissed in the wind once. I suppose if I was being paid it wouldn't be a bad job

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.