Pri­vacy com­mis­sioner seeks power over po­lit­i­cal par­ties

The London Free Press - - OBITUARIES -

TORONTO — On­tario’s pri­vacy com­mis­sioner is seek­ing leg­isla­tive changes that would give his of­fice over­sight of po­lit­i­cal par­ties.

Brian Beamish said Thurs­day that re­cent events have shed light on how po­lit­i­cal par­ties col­lect and use per­sonal in­for­ma­tion to tar­get peo­ple for po­lit­i­cal gain, of­ten with­out those peo­ple’s knowl­edge or con­sent.

The per­sonal in­for­ma­tion held by po­lit­i­cal par­ties can also be vul­ner­a­ble to cy­berse­cu­rity threats and pri­vacy breaches, but peo­ple af­fected by those breaches cur­rently have no re­course, he said.

Beamish said sub­ject­ing po­lit­i­cal par­ties to pri­vacy laws would help ad­dress the eth­i­cal and se­cu­rity risks as­so­ci­ated with how they col­lect and use per­sonal in­for­ma­tion.

“Up­dat­ing our ac­cess and pri­vacy laws is long over­due and nec­es­sary if they are to re­main rel­e­vant and in line with the in­for­ma­tion age,” he said in a state­ment.

The move comes after Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Leader Doug Ford came un­der fire dur­ing the On­tario elec­tion cam­paign over al­le­ga­tions his can­di­dates might have used stolen data to fur­ther their cause.

One Tory can­di­date re­signed shortly after his former em­ployer is­sued a state­ment about what it called an “in­ter­nal theft of cus­tomer data” af­fect­ing 60,000 peo­ple.

The Lib­er­als and NDP have said ques­tions re­main about the ex­tent of the al­leged data theft and how the in­for­ma­tion may have been used, but Ford main­tains he dealt with the is­sue im­me­di­ately.

Po­lice in York Re­gion are look­ing into a data breach from the 407 Ex­press Toll Route, the pri­vate high­way that runs north of Toronto.

Asked if Ford would sup­port the change sought by the pri­vacy com­mis­sioner, a spokesman said only that the pre­mier-des­ig­nate is fo­cused on his tran­si­tion to power and re­view­ing gov­ern­ment ob­jec­tives.

NDP Leader An­drea Hor­wath said she shares the com­mis­sioner’s con­cerns about the use of per­sonal data for po­lit­i­cal gain, “es­pe­cially when it comes to the ques­tions we all still have about the stolen per­sonal data of 407 ETR driv­ers.”

She said New Democrats also sup­port Beamish’s call for “duty to doc­u­ment” leg­is­la­tion, which would re­quire pub­lic en­ti­ties in On­tario to doc­u­ment matters re­lated to their de­lib­er­a­tions, ac­tions and de­ci­sions.

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