Evidence of meeting #28 for Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was know.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Patricia Kosseim  General Counsel, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
Andrew Patrick  Information Technology Research Analyst, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
Daniel Caron  Legal Counsel, Legal Services, Policy and Parliamentary Affairs Branch, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

4:55 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Do you mean they have been harmonized?

4:55 p.m.

General Counsel, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Patricia Kosseim

They have been deemed equivalent—not the same, but equivalent in terms of protection. With that certification, those provinces are exempt from the application of PIPEDA in their territories. The provincial act is recognized by an official process.

4:55 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

I don't want to address matters from a legal standpoint because we don't recognize... We believe the federal government is interfering in this field. We believe that personal information is a provincial jurisdiction.

I won't retain the information you've just provided because it's contrary to the Constitution. I'm a lawyer. So we're going to agree on this point. We won't go into a legal debate.

I would simply like to know, with regard to content, how we are protecting citizens. You say it's equivalent.

4:55 p.m.

General Counsel, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Patricia Kosseim

There is close cooperation between the provinces and our office. We hold monthly conference calls to discuss common issues.

4:55 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Do I have any time left, Mr. Chairman?

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Shawn Murphy

You have time to ask a very brief question.

4:55 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

I believe Canpages was sold to Yellow Pages. Was there a transaction?

4:55 p.m.

General Counsel, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Patricia Kosseim

I don't know.

4:55 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

That's fine. Thank you.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Shawn Murphy

Thank you, Madame Freeman.

Mr. Siksay, you have five minutes.

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Thank you, Chair.

I want to come back, probably to Maître Caron. In response to an earlier question about the recommendation to delete the information that was being held, you explained that this was being delayed because of some U.S. civil actions related to the collection of the data in the first place.

I want to be clear. The payload data and the Wi-Fi access-point data that Google collected in Canada are now being stored in the United States, and not at all in Canada. Am I correct about that?

4:55 p.m.

Legal Counsel, Legal Services, Policy and Parliamentary Affairs Branch, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Daniel Caron

That's right. The data is being stored in the U.S.

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Are we aware of any Canadian litigation related specifically to the collection of that data?

4:55 p.m.

Legal Counsel, Legal Services, Policy and Parliamentary Affairs Branch, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Daniel Caron

To my knowledge, there isn't any civil litigation with respect to that matter.

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

And the Canadian data is separate from the U.S. data. They're not all jumbled up together? The data collected in Canada is identifiable, as is the data collected in the United States? Am I correct about that as well?

4:55 p.m.

Information Technology Research Analyst, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Dr. Andrew Patrick

You are, except that there were some slight issues that arose when they drove near the border.

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Okay.

I'm just wondering why there is a delay. If the commissioner's recommendation was that the information be deleted and we're not aware of any Canadian litigation, why are we waiting to have the Canadian data deleted, or why is there any delay in that process?

October 28th, 2010 / 4:55 p.m.

Legal Counsel, Legal Services, Policy and Parliamentary Affairs Branch, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Daniel Caron

I think it may have to do with the data my colleague just spoke about. Some of that data might be relevant to some of the ongoing civil actions that have been consolidated in the U.S. So out of an abundance of caution, we didn't want to recommend that Google destroy data that might be relevant to ongoing proceedings.

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Now what about the data related specifically to border areas?

4:55 p.m.

Legal Counsel, Legal Services, Policy and Parliamentary Affairs Branch, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Daniel Caron

There might be information relating to the Wi-Fi incident that might be relevant to ongoing U.S. proceedings.

4:55 p.m.

General Counsel, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Patricia Kosseim

I think it has to do with the border but also with communications between Americans and Canadians that may involve e-mail correspondence or communications from individuals on both sides of the border. So it may be difficult, within e-mail correspondence, for instance, or within communications between a Canadian and an American, to perfectly segregate only the U.S. data from the Canadian data. Those are the kinds of complications that need to be worked out.

5 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

But if the Canadian data were stored only in Canada and not transferred out of the country and stored in the United States, would we have this problem? If Google had kept all of that data here in Canada, we'd be able to say, “That's the Canadian data. There is no litigation involved in this. Delete it now.” Am I correct about that? Is this a problem that's arising because we're allowing Canadians' personal data, which was gathered here in Canada, to be transferred and stored outside of the country?

5 p.m.

General Counsel, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Patricia Kosseim

I can't answer with certainty, but I think the laws of evidence would need to be considered. So regardless of where the data is stored, if it involves evidence for the ongoing class action suits in the U.S., there are obligations not to destroy the data, whether you store it in Canada or in the U.S. I think those are the kinds of subtleties the commissioner wanted to be sensitive to.

5 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

So Canadians would have those obligations to a U.S. court action? That's what's confusing me. This is data that's Canadians' data. It's collected in Canada. Would we be responsible for protecting evidence that Americans might think they need at some point, even though it all pertains to Canadians and was collected here in this country? I don't think we would normally be in a normal court situation. I'm not a lawyer.

5 p.m.

General Counsel, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Patricia Kosseim

I can't answer with certainty, but it has to do with cross-border instances when there may be a mingling of the data and correspondence between Americans and Canadians such that you cannot segregate correspondence for just the U.S. portion or just the Canadian portion. So it has to do with that.