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Spyware: Privacy Commissioner wants impact assessments

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To generate trust, it would be better, far better, if the privacy impact assessment was done up front, that my office was consulted, and that this could be communicated in some way other to Canadianshe said Monday in a parliamentary committee in Ottawa.

Currently, the Privacy Act does not require the RCMP or any government institution to perform privacy impact assessments for the commissioner, Dufresne noted. However, Treasury Board makes them mandatory by policy.

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics organized the summer session after the RCMP recognized the use of means to secretly obtain data from a cell phone or a computer.

In response to a written question tabled in the Commons last June, the RCMP defended herself by saying that she had obtained warrants during 10 investigations to use these tools to obtain text messages and emails or to remotely activate cameras and microphones.

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The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada was not informed or consulted about the software before its implementation or since, Dufresne said Monday. In fact, his office learned of its use at the end of June, when the news broke through the media.

The commissioner is still waiting

The RCMP says he has started preparing an impact assessment in 2021, but the commissioner says he has still not seen the color of it.

We see situations like this where it is done very late after a certain time of using the tool. So we’re not in a position where we can investigate or prevent. We are in reactive modelamented Mr. Dufresne.

Questioned by the Bloc Québécois ethics critic, René Villemure, the commissioner did not go so far as to call for a moratorium on the use of spyware.

The committee has scheduled meetings for Monday and Tuesday. Witnesses who will appear before the committee include Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, current and former Privacy Commissioners of Canada, and RCMP officers who oversaw the use of this software spies.

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