CBA on the Security of Canadians Information Sharing Act
February 16, 201716 February 2017
The Privacy and Access Law Section has been active in law reform this year, engaging in a number of initiatives – including initiatives related to SCISA, the Privacy Act, Canada’s Anti-Spam Laws (CASL), and the Personal Information and Protection of Electronic Data Act (PIPEDA) – the latest of which being the CBA’s January 31st, 2017 submission to the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics (ETHI) study on the Security of Canadians Information Sharing Act (SCISA).
This appearance and submission to the ETHI Committee, led by Stikeman Elliott’s David Elder, was a follow-up to the recent CBA submission in response to the Government’s Green Paper on National Security, which itself echoed many of the concerns that the CBA had raised previously in its submission respecting Bill C-51, part of which contained SCISA.
In keeping with its previous submissions on the matter, the CBA supports balanced information sharing for the purpose of national security that is necessary, proportionate and accompanied by adequate safeguards to protect individual privacy rights and ensure that information shared is reliable. These measures include robust independent oversight, restrictions around the subsequent use and disclosure of information disclosed to an institution under the Act, as well as effective checks and balances on information sharing.
These measures are increasingly important as SCISA has significantly expanded intragovernmental information sharing for national security purposes in Canada, including the sharing of potentially sensitive personal information, without precise definitions, basic privacy protections, or clear limitations on the purposes for sharing. While some helpful changes were made to SCISA before its final passage into law in 2015, the statute still causes concern on several fronts, one of which being the potential for information sharing that threatens the privacy of Canadians.
Evidence from the appearance can be read here. The Committee proceeded to give drafting instructions to the analysts for a report on February 9th, 2017. Once the report is tabled, the government will have 120 calendar days to respond.