Personal information at risk as NDP ignores advice of privacy commissioner: BC Liberals

Steve Thomson

B.C. Liberals on Wednesday alleged that the NDP is putting British Columbians’ privacy at risk by turning down recommendations from the B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner and the Official Opposition regarding Bill 35, the Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act. 

The Information and Privacy Commissioner, Michael McEvoy, expressed clear concerns in a letter to the Attorney General and the Acting Minister of Citizens’ Services regarding the government’s tabled provisions being “too permissive” and “vague”, where stronger limits are needed to better protect the privacy of all British Columbians.

“What’s the point of consultation if the Attorney General had no intention to follow through on any of the recommendations provided by the Privacy Commissioner?” said Steve Thomson, BC Liberal Citizens’ Services Co-Critic. “With two weeks to consider the ramifications of changing how people’s information could be accessed and stored, Minister [David] Eby chose to ignore the advice from a well-respected data protection expert.” 

Section 22 of the Bill seeks to amend the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, expanding the authority of public bodies to disclose personal information outside of Canada, such as through cloud-based services. 

“We have grave concern for the 1.6 million British Columbians who have filled out personal information – including social insurance numbers – to declare for the NDP’s Speculation and Vacancy Tax,” said Ben Stewart, BC Liberal Citizens’ Services Co-Critic. “I have been contacted by many homeowners about their concerns but this government is willing to risk international data sharing without proper privacy safeguards.”

Michael Lee, Official Opposition Critic for Attorney General, shares those concerns. He says that as British Columbians are faced with increasing demands from government to share personal data, how the government uses and processes that information is of crucial importance. 

“We want to see greater transparency, accountability, and certainty when it comes to public bodies’ handling of personal data,” said Lee. “But it’s clear that the NDP has decided the Privacy Commissioner’s recommendations don’t warrant any consideration.”