Updated Assessment of the Information-Sharing Provisions in C-51

Roach and I have published a brief article in the Canadian Privacy Law Review on C-51’s information-sharing law, updating our observations from prior backgrounders to incorporate amendments made to the provisions by the House of Commons during the legislative process.  The paper can be downloaded here.  The abstract is as follows:

The Security of Canada Information Sharing Act (the “Act”) contained as Part I in Bill C-51 is based on the concept of “activities that undermine the security of Canada”. This is a new and astonishingly broad concept that is much more sweeping than any definition of security in Canadian national security law. In important respects, it comes close to a “total information awareness” approach or, at least, a unitary view of governmental information holding and sharing. In that respect, we consider it a radical departure from conventional understandings of both national security interests and privacy.

In this article, we first discuss what is at stake in information sharing and argue that the new Act does not give adequate attention to the risks that information sharing presents to privacy or that the sharing of unreliable information can cause injustice. In the second part, we critically examine the new concept of activities that “undermine the security of Canada”, which plays a central role in the new information sharing act.

In the third part, we examine the most important operative section of the Act. Finally, in the last part, we argue that when the broad information sharing Act becomes law, accountability reform and, in particular, revamped independent review with a whole of government mandate and power will be imperative to counteract the risks of information sharing discussed in the first part of this article.

Reproduced with permission of the publisher LexisNexis Canada Inc. from Canadian Privacy Law Review, Vol. 12, No. 7, June 2015.