Toronto – The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) has launched a constitutional challenge to parts of the federal privacy legislation that effectively permits private companies to engage in warrantless disclosure of personal information to government. The challenge is part of CCLA’s ongoing work in the areas of privacy, national security, and accountability in law enforcement, and comes in the wake of recent revelations that telecommunications service providers provide government agencies with customer information on a massive scale. CCLA’s General Counsel, Sukanya Pillay, described the court challenge as “a way to protect the privacy rights of Canadians and ensure accountability across the board.”
CCLA is challenging parts of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) that allow private corporations to disclose their users’ personal information to a government institution (including law enforcement agencies) for a number of reasons including national security and the enforcement of any law of Canada, any province or a foreign jurisdiction. While law enforcement may have a need to access some personal information in a narrow set of circumstances, the current law is too broad and should be struck out. The consequences of government accessing and sharing personal information without an individual’s knowledge or consent, can be very serious and violate fundamental constitutional rights. The fact that information is being obtained from the private sector further complicates things. As CCLA’s General Counsel stated: “Non-state actors are playing an increasingly large role in providing law enforcement and government agencies with information they request. The current scheme is completely lacking in transparency and is inadequate in terms of accountability mechanisms.”
CCLA’s legal challenge asks that provisions of PIPEDA be struck as an unconstitutional violation of the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. CCLA brings this challenge to create the impetus for change necessary to effectively protect the privacy rights of individuals.
Click here to read CCLA’s Notice of Application.
Press Release: CCLA Challenges Constitutionality Of Privacy Legislation « Canadian Civil Liberties Association