Political parties operate outside Canada’s privacy laws
Politician’s email provokes debate, concern and surprise
By Daniel Schwartz, CBC News Posted: Sep 26, 2012 5:29 AM ET Last Updated: Sep 26, 2012 8:01 AM ET
In 2011, about 10,000 people signed a petition addressed to Jason Kenney and his ministry, Citizenship and Immigration, demanding that Alvaro Orozco, a young Nicaraguan who was facing deportation, be allowed to stay in Canada.
Orozco, a gay artist, did avoid deportation, but that petition is back in the news after Kenney sent out an email extolling what the government of Canada has been doing on “gay and lesbian refugee protection.”
It startled many in the gay community that a federal minister had their contact information at his disposal. It also pulled back the covers on the use of personal data and, in particular, the lack of Canadian laws governing what personal information Canadian political parties are allowed to keep and exploit, essentially as they see fit.
As a little-reported study for Canada’s privacy commissioner noted recently, “Canadian federal privacy protection law does not cover federal political parties.”
In fact, even Ann Cavoukian, the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Ontario, was astounded today when she realized the parties are not covered.
Ontario Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian is concerned that political parties can use information they gather from voters for purposes other than for what it was intended, without the voter’s consent. (Canadian Press)
In this case, it seems that Kenney’s parliamentary office had saved the names and email addresses of the petition signatories and included them on the mailing list for the message that Kenney sent out on Friday.
When people sign a petition on Change.org, the web site used to try to help Alvaro Orozco, they provide their name, email address and full address and, if they wish, a personal comment.
If someone read down far enough, they would learn that when they sign a petition, their “personal information may be delivered to the intended recipient of such campaign and/or the creator of such campaign.”
As well, when someone opts for public display of their signature, which is the default on the site, they “are also consenting to the disclosure of your name, city, state and a link to your change.org user profile.”
Article posted in Communities, Immigration, Latino community