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Federal government snooping on social media, says Canada's privacy watchdog

Darpan News Desk Darpan, 08 May, 2014

    So you thought you had a good amount of privacy on your Facebook page with all those privacy settings? Well, it doesn't seem so keeping in mind a letter from Canada's privacy watchdog which states government agencies are collecting "personal information from social networking sites" that is not directly related with government business.

    In a letter obtained by CTV news dated Feb. 14, Interim Privacy Commissioner Chantal Bernier has voiced her concerns regarding privacy on social media to Treasury Board Secretary Tony Clement.

    Bernier writes that government agencies are contravening the Privacy Act by accumulating information and adds that there is also absence of steps to ensure its accuracy.

    "We are seeing evidence that personal information is being collected by government institutions from social media sites without regard for accuracy, currency or accountability," Bernier says in her letter.

    "Should information culled from these sites be used to make administrative decisions about individuals, it is incumbent upon government institutions to ensure the accuracy of this information; it is not at all clear that this obligation is being, or could be, met."

    While shedding light on the Privacy Act, Bernier indicates that information available publicly can be used by the government, but cannot be collected unless required for a specific program or activity.

    Bernier released a report to the parliament two weeks ago where she notified that Canada's spy agencies need oversight and better guidelines as new surveillance tools provide them access to information that was previously never available. 

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