Parliament gives private companies right to collect personal data for national security reasons

| May 06, 2004
The new Public Safety Act (Bill C-7), passed by Parliament and given royal assent on May 6, 2004, amends numerous other Acts in ways that bolster the federal government\'s ability to protect national security. Of particular interest to privacy advocates are the amendments to PIPEDA, which create three new exceptions to the general rule against covert collection of personal data by private companies: organizations can now collect anf use personal information without the individual\'s knowledge or consent where a) for the purpose of making a subsequent disclosure as required by law, b) either CSIS or the RCMP make a request for the collection and the data relates to a national security interest, or c) the organization thinks that the information might be relevant to national security interests and intends to disclose it to a law enforcement agency. Previously, organizations were permitted to disclose personal information in their possession for national security reasons, but were not empowered to collect it of their own accord for such purposes (e.g., as agents of the state).