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New federal requirements for potentially intrusive software

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Minister Anita Anand promises a tougher directive to protect privacy.

  • Brigitte Bureau (View profile)Brigitte Bureau< /li>

Speech synthesis, based on artificial intelligence, makes it possible to generate spoken text from a written text.

A more robust federal directive which would require departments to assess the impact on privacy of certain new technologies will be ready this summer, promises the President of the Treasury Board, Anita Anand. However, the federal government is not currently committed to making it a binding legal obligation, as many are calling for.

Minister Anand appeared Thursday before a parliamentary committee examining the federal use of tools capable of extracting all data from cell phones and computers.

Yes, there is a problem, the minister admitted before the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Protection of Personal Information and ethics.

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Extraction tools can recover data from a cell phone even if it is protected by passwords.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">This is why we are revising our directive, she announced.

The federal directive in question currently requires federal agencies to assess privacy risks before launching any new program or activity that involves collection or processing personal information.

Minister Anand's testimony comes in the wake of Radio-Canada's revelations last November that several departments and agencies had not carried out such assessments before using extraction instruments data.

These tools allow you to unlock cell phones and computers, even if they are protected by a password or fingerprint, and to access all their data, including that which is encrypted. This may include emails, text messages, contacts, photos and travel history.

Several departments say use these tools during warrant investigations. Others also use them without warrant to conduct internal investigations when officials are suspected of misconduct.

Some ministries explained earlier before the same parliamentary committee that they did not consider it necessary to assess the privacy impact of data extraction tools because they did not consider it necessary to assess the privacy impact of data extraction tools. an evaluation had already been made for all of their investigation programs several years ago.

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René Villemure calls for the directive to be included in the Canadian Privacy Act.

However, for several Committee members, a directive – even a strengthened one – is not enough. This is the case of Bloc MP René Villemure.

Will you, yes or no, include assessments of privacy factors in the law?, he asked the minister.

A legal obligation enshrined in the Personal Information Protection Act is necessary, according to him, to ensure compliance by federal agencies.

Treasury Board promises stronger federal directive to better protect private information.

He is not the only one to demand such a change. During their appearance before the parliamentary committee, the Privacy Commissioner, union leaders as well as a communications and privacy expert made similar comments.

Minister Anand says talks are underway on this subject with Justice Minister Arif Virani, but it is too early to comment.

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