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Members of Parliament who sit on the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Protection of Personal Information and Ethics voted in favor of a study of the federal use of personal data extraction devices.

Radio-Canada

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

A parliamentary committee will look into on the federal use of tools capable of recovering data from mobile phones, computers or tablets.

The Bloc Québécois motion calling for such a study was unanimously adopted by the members of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Protection of Personal Information and Ethics.

A report from Radio-Canada revealed last week that at least 13 federal government departments and agencies use these tools, particularly in the context of investigations. But these institutions did not first carry out a privacy risk assessment, as required by a directive from the Treasury Board Secretariat.

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Bloc MP René Villemure answers questions from journalist Brigitte Bureau at the entrance to the room of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Protection of Personal Information and Ethics, December 6, 2023 .

The sponsor of the motion, Bloc MP René Villemure, welcomes the committee's decision.

Citizens are concerned about their privacy, he said. When we hear of departments and/or organizations using such techniques to observe people, frankly it is unacceptable.

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Liberal MP Mona Fortier is a member of the committee. She was President of the Treasury Board from October 2021 to July 2023. What really worries me is to see that the departments probably did not follow the protocols that are in place, she said. .

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Liberal MP and former President of the Treasury Board, Mona Fortier (Archive photo)

I would still like to say that the government is not there to spy on civil servants or departments, she clarified.

The Committee will undertake this study starting at the end of January. Among those who will be called to testify are the President of the Treasury Board, Anita Anand, the heads or senior officials of the 13 federal institutions that use these tools, the Privacy Commissioner, as well as heads of unions which represent public servants.

The Bloc had planned to table this motion on Monday, but for procedural reasons had to wait until Wednesday.

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