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Monday, November 01, 2004

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 Patriot Act is a danger to Canadians

British Columbia Privacy Commissioner David Loukidelis says the USA Patriot Act violates provincial privacy laws, because it can order American companies to hand over information on British Columbians in secret.

Last week, the provincial government brought in amendments to the Privacy Act, in an effort to deal with the issue. Loukidelis welcomes the changes, but says the law should be strengthened to include tougher, clearer language – and stiffer penalties.

Loukidelis says that once information is sent across borders, it's difficult, if not impossible, to control. He notes that under the USA Patriot Act, the US government can demand access to a wide range of personal, confidential information

"It is never possible to guarantee perfect protection of information. Regardless, our report concludes that measures can and should be put in place that meaningfully guard against access by the USA Patriot Act," says Loukidelis.

He recommends that Ottawa and the provinces pass legislation that will "prohibit personal information from being stored or sent outside Canada."

Loukidelis would also like to make it illegal for Canadian subsidiaries of US firms to turn over information to a U.S. agency without a Canadian court order.

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