These two devices that allow data collection are examples of those purchased by some departments and agencies.
Data mining tools can be used in ways that raise significant privacy risks, says the commissioner.
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A federal directive requires departments to conduct a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) before any new activity involving the collection or processing of personal information. This involves identifying privacy risks and measures to mitigate or eliminate these risks.
None of the 13 ministries in question have not carried out such an assessment in relation to data extraction tools.
Commissioner Dufresne deplores that this requirement is still not included in the Personal Information Protection Act, in order to make it a binding legal obligation.
He believes that this is all the more necessary in a context where technologies are becoming more and more powerful.
It will be even more important to reassure Canadians, he adds.
Mr. Dufresne says he contacted the 13 federal institutions following the Radio-Canada report to encourage them to conduct such an analysis.
But he maintains that not have the necessary powers to compel them to do so.
Eight organizations told the Commissioner that they had started carrying out a PIA or were exploring the possibility of carrying out one:
Four other organizations believe that it was not necessary, among other things, because they had carried out an evaluation several years ago for their entire survey program:
Finally, Natural Resources Canada told the Commissioner that it purchased the tool, but never used it.
The Commissioner privacy protection recognizes that data extraction tools can be useful in certain circumstances.
The idea is not It's not about refusing technology, it's about marking it, he says.
The 13 ministries in question will have the opportunity to explain their use of these instruments to the committee over the coming weeks. Some say they use them in internal investigations or to enforce laws.
One of the committee members, NDP MP Matthew Green , is concerned that an even greater number of ministries are using these technologies without us knowing it. The committee agreed to contact each of the 137 federal institutions to demand accountability.
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