Evidence of meeting #44 for Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was data.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

12:50 p.m.

Commissioner, Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario

Dr. Ann Cavoukian

Thank you, Commissioner Denham. Like you, we have order-making power, and we can order the cessation or the destruction of collections of personal information that have been collected contrary to the act.

I did that a few years ago with the Ottawa police, believe it or not. They had collected information that I ordered destroyed. I had the pleasure of meeting Vern White, who was then the police chief in Ottawa and is now Senator White.

So we do have, in terms of what comes under our jurisdiction, the ability to order the destruction of these collections. Then we can ask for third-party audits to ensure that the data has been destroyed, although I had no concerns with the Ottawa police doing so.

As Commissioner Denham mentioned, the right to be forgotten is extremely important. It features prominently in the new EU data protection regulation that has been drafted.

Also, it is becoming more and more important because of the limited control you have in online social media and other fora in terms of online access. Is it really being destroyed? Is it being deactivated? How long...? What assurances do you have?

I'm going to suggest to people that you have very few or virtually no assurances in terms of private sector information that exceeds, certainly, my jurisdiction, and that may exceed others' jurisdictions. Even our ability to audit is very difficult to do. It takes a lot of effort. What the FTC and other organizations are doing now is building in the need for independent third-party audit, so that if the destruction of records has been ordered or required, it can then be confirmed after the fact.

But I just want to point you to one thing, and I'll say this as my final comment. Over time, I think it's going to become increasingly more difficult if companies and governments don't follow privacy by design in terms of proactively offering privacy as the default feature. You're not going to be assured of privacy or a destruction of your records. It's going to be a free-for-all.

We've been working with the University of Toronto to develop a new concept called SmartData. If you go to our website, you'll see that we just had an international symposium on SmartData, which is the developing of virtual tools that will work for the data subject and will be your virtual agent online to protect your data and act on your behalf in a contextual way.

I'm not going to take any more of the committee's time, but I just wanted to point you to SmartData. You can go to it on our website or we can send you some information. Again, we're calling it the embodiment of privacy by design—to basically give consumers, the users, the tools that will enable them to also protect their own data.

Thank you.

12:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Pierre-Luc Dusseault

Thank you. Thank you a second time for being available to make your presentations today.

I hope we will be able to access the document you mentioned, Ms. Cavoukian, and that we can forward it to every committee member through the clerk. Thank you for being here.

We will suspend proceedings for a few minutes and then, as you know, come back for the last five minutes to talk about committee business.

Thank you.

12:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Pierre-Luc Dusseault

We will resume the meeting.

Mr. Andrews wanted to say a few words.

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Andrews Avalon, NL

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

As committee members know, I did apologize in camera at our last meeting, and I will do it in the public portion of the meeting. That's why I asked that we stay in public.

My apologies.

12:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Pierre-Luc Dusseault

Mr. Andrews apologized here in public.

Is there something else on the committee's business agenda that we wanted to discuss?

I wanted to make a few announcements. In particular, I submitted the report of the Société du Vieux-Port de Montréal this morning. So it has been tabled in the House.

The correction that we wanted to make to the lobbying report has also been made. It has been accepted by the House by unanimous consent. That is what I wanted to tell you.

Did Ms. Borg want to add something?

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

I just wanted to follow up on the other day—

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Charmaine Borg Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Okay.

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Sorry.

Because there were two incidents the other day, and I'm concerned about the protocol with media. Because what happened to Mr. Andrews could happen to anybody when you're not paying attention. You're focused, and if someone taps you on the shoulder and says, hey, what do you have...? I'm just concerned.

It might have been...you know, the media might not have been paying attention, but do we have a protocol in terms of the role, of the limits, of journalists who approach the table while we are doing our work?

Because I think we need to just make that a clear position—that while we are doing the work of the ethics committee, we should not have journalists coming up and tapping us on the shoulder while we're working. I think we need some kind of.... We don't need to make a big statement, but we have to have a clear working understanding about how we're going to work together.

12:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Pierre-Luc Dusseault

The clerk tells me that certain existing rules are supposed to govern the work of journalists in committee meetings. I am going to hand the floor over to him.

12:55 p.m.

The Clerk of the Committee Mr. Chad Mariage

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

In February 2009, a memorandum of understanding between the parliamentary press gallery and the House of Commons was reached. It was based on an initial report and a trial run that was a result of a study done by the procedure and House affairs committee.

I can distribute that directive to members, if you're interested.

12:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Pierre-Luc Dusseault

Mr. Harris, you have the floor.

June 7th, 2012 / 12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Just as a point of clarification, I believe within the protocol it is not permissible for a reporter, a member of the press, to come and interrupt a member sitting in a committee meeting. Is that correct?

If that is the correct protocol, and it certainly must be understood by the reporters who work on the Hill day after day, then there was a breach of protocol by that reporter who did approach a member. Whether she caught him by surprise or not, she bears a lot of the responsibility.

This committee, if she's breached protocol, would be well in its right to issue a complaint via the Speaker, or directly against her, and remind her of the protocol and not to let it happen again.

12:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Pierre-Luc Dusseault

Mr. Butt, do you wish to add something?

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Brad Butt Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

That was basically my point. I think there is a rule right now about reporters approaching the committee table while committee's in session. It's absolutely prohibited. That's my understanding, and that's what it should be.

The reporter should have known the difference. I think she did catch Mr. Andrews off guard, and I think that was unfortunate. I think I would agree with Mr. Harris that the reporter bears very much the blame. She's not brand new around here. She's been around here quite awhile, so she clearly knows what the rules are.

I don't think there's any question that this is the rule. You do not approach the committee table while committee is in session—period.

1 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Pierre-Luc Dusseault

I would like to add that we normally do not allow journalists to be around the table during a public meeting. Perhaps we could remind journalists of those rules through the president of the Parliamentary Press Gallery in the House of Commons. We could remind them of the rules, Mr. Andrews.