Privacy Commissioner Welcomes Steps to Safeguard Voter Privacy



    OTTAWA, June 26 /CNW Telbec/ - Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart
welcomes amendments to the Canada Elections Act that help safeguard the
privacy of voter information and increase penalties for its misuse.
    C-31: An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Public Service
Employment Act received Royal Assent on June 22, 2007. As passed by the House
of Commons, C-31 would have authorized Elections Canada to release each
voter's date of birth to political parties and candidates during an election
campaign, in addition to name and address.
    During her appearance before the Senate Committee on Legal and
Constitutional Affairs on May 17, 2007, Commissioner Stoddart questioned the
need for this additional information. Her concern was whether it would truly
protect the electoral process from voter fraud.
    The Senate subsequently proposed to remove this section of C-31. The
Senate's proposal was adopted by the House of Commons. Now, only Elections
Canada officials will have access to a voter's date of birth.
    "Canadians expect that their personal information will be used
carefully," said Commissioner Stoddart. "As we all grow more concerned about
identity fraud, the Government has a responsibility to release personal
information only when absolutely necessary."
    The Commissioner also welcomed the decision to adopt her proposal to
increase the penalty for misuse of personal information, to a maximum of $5000
or one year imprisonment or both (from $1000 or 3 months or both).
    The Commissioner's correspondence with the Leader of the Government in
the House of Commons and the Clerk of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal
and Constitutional Affairs is available at
www.privcom.gc.ca/parl/index_2007_e.asp.

    The Privacy Commissioner of Canada is mandated by Parliament to act as an
ombudsman, advocate and guardian of privacy and the protection of personal
information rights of Canadians.




For further information:

For further information: Colin McKay, Office of the Privacy Commissioner
of Canada, (613) 995-0103, cmckay@privcom.gc.ca


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