Security bill needs safeguards to prevent ‘a profile on all of us’: privacy czar

Security bill needs safeguards: privacy czar

OTTAWA — National security agencies should be required to destroy personal information once they determine someone is not a threat, the federal privacy watchdog says.

Privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien is calling for changes to the Liberal government’s sweeping security bill to ensure prompt disposal of personal data the agencies don’t really need.

“Otherwise national security agencies will be able to keep a profile on all of us,” Therrien told the House of Commons public safety committee Thursday.

The Liberal security legislation, tabled in June, fleshes out campaign promises to revise elements of a contentious omnibus bill brought in by the Harper government after a gunman stormed Parliament Hill in October 2014.

The legislation, now being studied by the public safety committee, would tighten provisions that deal with information sharing between federal agencies.

Therrien said the government needs to go further to achieve the right balance between security and privacy.

The Liberals say they have tried to find middle ground — in part by rolling back measures that alarmed civil libertarians.

The Conservatives gave the Canadian Security Intelligence Service explicit authority to derail terrorist threats, expanding the service’s traditional intelligence-collection mandate.

The Liberal legislation requires CSIS to seek a warrant for any threat reduction measure that would “limit” a right or freedom protected by the charter, and clarifies that a warrant can only be issued if a judge is satisfied the measure complies with the charter.

The bill would also create a new super-watchdog — the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency — to oversee the intelligence activities of more than a dozen federal agencies, including some, like the Canada Border Services Agency, that have never been subject to such review.

The government has also established a national security committee of MPs and senators with access to secret information to keep an eye on the intelligence world.

Therrien applauded these moves, saying the new bodies will be able to share confidential information and generally work together to produce well-informed and comprehensive reviews.

However, he said his office would not be able to legally share confidential information with the new review agency or the committee of parliamentarians.

It means the security bill’s objective of comprehensive review would fall short by leaving privacy experts out of the mix, Therrien said. Bringing the privacy commissioner’s office firmly within the family of review bodies would not only ensure the required expertise but enhance efficiency, he added.

Christian Leuprecht, a political science professor at the Royal Military College of Canada, warned against imposing undue constraints on the Canadian intelligence community given the grave global threats the country faces.

“We need to make sure that we strike an effective balance here,” he told the committee.

One provision in the bill takes aim at the recurring problem of mistaken no-fly list name matches involving youngsters, allowing the public safety minister to inform parents that their child is not on the roster.

In addition, under a revised appeal process, someone’s name would be dropped from the no-fly list if the minister does not deal with their appeal within 120 days. However, the minister would be able to extend the deadline before the first 120-day period expires.

Cara Zwibel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association told the MPs the no-fly program is troubling because the process by which people are placed on the list remains opaque, and the proposed redress mechanisms are inadequate.

The current process allows for the use of hearsay and secret evidence without access to a special advocate who can test that evidence or represent the interests of the listed person, she added.

— Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter

Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The interchange at Highway 2 and McKenzie Road at the south end of Gasoline Alley is being redesigned with two roundabouts. Construction is expected to begin this month and finish in October. (Graphic from Red Deer County)
Roudabouts coming to McKenzie Road overpass at Gasoline Alley

Project expected to improve traffic flow at busy intersections

A federal strategy to preserve threatened trout could conflict with provincial coal leases in the Eastern Slopes of the Rockies. (Contributed photo by Jeff Lund).
Federal regulations could save Alberta’s bull trout by shutting down mining plans, says biologist

Ottawa’s new strategy identifies a 30-metre protected area along rivers and streams

(Contributed image)
Wolf Creek Public Schools will not participate in curriculum pilot

Central Alberta school jurisdiction joins others across Alberta

Canada's Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes, fom left, celebrate after winning women's gold medal match against Brazil's team at the Beach Volley Worldtour Major Series, in Vienna, Austria on August 4, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Ronald Zak
Canada’s world champion beach volleyball duo finally getting games before Tokyo

Canada’s world champion beach volleyball duo finally getting games before Tokyo

Toronto Raptors center Khem Birch (24) gets fouled by Atlanta Hawks guard Bogdan Bogdanovic (13) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Bogdanovic, Capela lead Hawks past Raptors 107-103

Bogdanovic, Capela lead Hawks past Raptors 107-103

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Hyun Jin Ryu throws to a New York Yankees batter during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Ryu sharp into 7th, Semien homers as Blue Jays top Yanks 7-3

Ryu sharp into 7th, Semien homers as Blue Jays top Yanks 7-3

Calgary Flames' Johnny Gaudreau (13) scores the game winning goal on Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender David Rittich (33) in overtime NHL action in Toronto on Tuesday, April 13, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Gaudreau scores in overtime, Flames beat Maple Leafs 3-2

Gaudreau scores in overtime, Flames beat Maple Leafs 3-2

Jim Bullock, Vicki Pappas and Randy Waples off to Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame

Jim Bullock, Vicki Pappas and Randy Waples off to Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame

Canada's Evelyne Viens celebrates scoring against Wales during the women's international friendly soccer match at Leckwith Stadium, Wales, Friday April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nick Potts/PA via AP
Canada capitalizes on England mistakes to win women’s soccer friendly 2-0

Canada capitalizes on England mistakes to win women’s soccer friendly 2-0

After weekend hiccup at men’s worlds, Grand Slams move into curling bubble

After weekend hiccup at men’s worlds, Grand Slams move into curling bubble

Erickson Gallardo of Canada's Toronto FC and his teammates celebrate after Andres Mosquera of Mexico's Leon scored an own goal during their Concacaf Champions League soccer match in Leon, Mexico, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRES/AP/Mario Armas
Toronto FC gets vaccine boost but injury list still an issue ahead of Leon rematch

Toronto FC gets vaccine boost but injury list still an issue ahead of Leon rematch

Most Read