MP Williams: There is a lack of respect for Canadians Privacy

August 9, 2022

Ottawa, Ontario – Ryan Williams, MP for Bay of Quinte is concerned that the RCMP has kept their practice of using spyware to surveille Canadians away from the Privacy Commissioner, whose mandate is to protect Canadians’ trust.  The Privacy Commissioner and Parliamentarians only learned of the RCMPs actions from an answer to an Order Paper Question in June, which was reported in the press.

MP Williams, a member of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics says “In this committee we have now studied the misuse of cell phone data during the pandemic, facial recognition technology, and now spyware. It is my job and the committee’s job to ensure this technology is used only for the proper use under the criminal code and under the privacy act. There has been far less transparency and adherence to the privacy processes we have in place, and we will use testimony to push for changes to the privacy act.”

Over the course of the testimony, it was revealed that the RCMP never consulted the Privacy Commissioner before deploying the spyware and has yet to file a Privacy Impact Assessment with the Privacy Commissioner, more than 5 years after use began. “It is totally unacceptable that the Privacy Commissioner found out about the RCMP’s use of this spyware from the news.  This shows a blatant lack of respect for Canadians’ privacy rights by the RCMP and is another example in a troubling trend by our national police force,” added MP Williams.

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics is undertaking a four-meeting study on August 8th and 9th on the RCMP’s use of this spyware, or “On-Device Investigative Tools” as they refer to it.  The committee is hearing from representatives from the RCMP, the Minister responsible for the RCMP, the Minister of Public Safety, Marco Mendicino; the current and former Privacy Commissioners of Canada; and private sector privacy experts.