Compliance Management, Privacy

Canadian government crossed the line in monitoring of activist

The Canadian privacy commissioner has found that the government overstepped its bounds while monitoring activist Cindy Blackstock.
The commissioner's report, released privately this month, found that the government began using social media to gather personal information about Blackstock in February 2010. Blackstock, the executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, had lodged a human rights complaint against the government three years before. She alleged that inequitable government funding for First Nations child welfare services amounted to discrimination.
Two agencies had monitored Blackstock's personal Facebook page for information about her, said the commissioner's report: "Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC), and the Department of Justice." 

The report determined that the monitoring was “not reasonable" and showed a disregard for privacy. The commissioner demanded that the monitoring stop and that any personal information collected be destroyed.
The commissioner also told the AANDC to implement an audit trail for access to its Indian Registered Status (IRS) database. This database contains personal information about Status Indians in Canada. Blackstock, who has been registered on the database since 1996, claims it was accessed without her consent, but the commissioner could not investigate, as there were no access logs.

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