Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Privacy Watchdogs Say Anti-Terrorism Bill Unduly Exposes Personal Info

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Privacy Watchdogs Say Anti-Terrorism Bill Unduly Exposes Personal Info

Article excerpt

Privacy watchdogs lambaste terror bill

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OTTAWA - The scope of the Conservative government's anti-terrorism bill is "clearly excessive" and puts the personal information of Canadians at risk, the federal privacy commissioner warns.

In a submission to the House of Commons public safety committee, Daniel Therrien says measures in the bill to guard against unreasonable loss of privacy are "seriously deficient."

In their own brief to the committee studying the bill, Therrien's provincial and territorial counterparts say the provisions significantly expand government powers to monitor and profile ordinary, law-abiding Canadians.

"Such a state of affairs would be inconsistent with the rule of law in our democratic state and contrary to the expectations of Canadians," they say.

The federal government brought in the bill -- which would significantly expand the Canadian Security Intelligence Service's mandate -- following the daylight murders of two soldiers last October.

The legislation would give CSIS the ability to disrupt terror plots, make it easier to limit the movements of a suspect, expand no-fly list powers and crack down on terrorist propaganda.

It would also remove many barriers to sharing security-related information, raising grave concerns on the part of the privacy commissioners.

Therrien says the bill could make available all federally held information about someone of interest to as many as 17 government departments and agencies with responsibilities for national security.

The legislation sets the threshold for sharing Canadians' personal data far too low, he says.

In addition, Therrien is concerned the bill sets no clear limits on how long the information would be kept.

"While the potential to know virtually everything about everyone may well identify some new threats, the loss of privacy is clearly excessive," Therrien's brief says.

"All Canadians would be caught in this web."

For instance, in an effort to identify people who may have become foreign fighters abroad, the Canada Border Services Agency could be asked to provide information on all individuals, including tourists and business people, who have travelled to countries suspected of being transit points to conflict areas, Therrien says. …

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