Privacy Law Reform.

Privacy leadership is a precious opportunity at a time when public trust in technology and in political leadership’s capacity or will to ethically guide its development is fragile.  

Data collection, use, protection and governance have emerged as pressing social and public policy issues. Federally, provincially, and territorially, it is time to update public and private sector privacy laws to protect and serve people across Canada in this time of rapidly changing technology and rapidly eroding privacy.  

Canadian residents are regularly asked by the private sector, and now increasingly, by the public sector, to trust in promises about the benefits of innovative uses for data. However, the fact that technologies allow increased collection and different uses of our personal information does not fundamentally change expectations that those who want to use our information have a duty to residents to use our information in ways that respect our rights, including but not limited to our right to privacy. In a world where the risks of excess collection, unexpected sharing, and inadequate security turn up daily in the news, in the breach notification letters most of us have received from a (formerly) trusted company, and in the pervasive targeting that delivers ads or articles to our various online accounts with an accuracy that reveals a knowledge of aspects of our lives that we did not consciously choose to share, governments have a responsibility to ensure their information policy sets a higher standard. We need a law strong and effective enough to establish the right safeguards when public or private sector bodies are deciding when, and how to use our personal information whether it is to develop data-driven products or drive policy that will impact the life-chances of millions. 

CCLA advocates for privacy laws that recognise privacy as a human right, that provide principles-based guardrails for information collection, use and disclosure, and that are sufficiently expansive and rigorous to address the risks of a data-driven economy and the rapid pace of technological change. 

Our 2018 Supreme Court Win

Can Canadians ever reasonably expect the text messages they send to remain private, even after the messages have reached their destination? Or is the state free, regardless of the circumstances, to access text messages from a recipient’s device without a warrant?

When Nour Marakah was accused of various crimes, text messages he had sent were used as evidence against him. Text messages on his phone were deemed inadmissible because using them would violate Nour’s right to be free from search and seizure; so the investigating team got an iPhone belonging to another person who had received texts from Nour, and attempted to use them as evidence.

Oral communications in Canada are protected and require a warrant to obtain, and with more and more people using texting to communicate, we argued that written communication should also be allowed the same privacy. Advancements in technology make it possible to negate privacy, but they don’t make it legal.

The Court found that there had been a breach of Marakah’s Charter rights in this case.  Without those texts, he would have been acquitted and to allow the conviction to stand would be a miscarriage of justice.

The court agreed that written communications should have the same expectation of privacy as oral communications, and that violating that privacy is a breach on your charter right to be free from search & seizure.

Our Work in Privacy Law Reform


Advocates demand proper consideration for AI regulation

September 25, 2023
Canadians deserve to be protected from AI overreach, but Bill C-27’s Artificial Intelligence and Data…

CCLA’s Submission on Bill C-27, the Digital Charter Implementation Act

September 20, 2023
Daniel Konikoff (Interim Director of the Privacy, Technology & Surveillance program) and Tashi Alford-Duguid (Staff…

CCLA Submission on Political Parties and Privacy Law

May 26, 2023
Daniel Konikoff (Interim Director of the Privacy, Technology & Surveillance program) and Tashi Alford-Duguid (Staff…

Guest Blog: Artificial Intelligence Developers Must Ensure Commitment to Meaningful Consent

February 14, 2023
Jonathan A. Obar, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication & Media…

New Privacy Law to be Tabled Today: What CCLA Hopes to See

June 16, 2022
CCLA looks forward to a deep dive into the legislation tabled today, a Bill lengthily…

Submission to the Special Committee to Review the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (British Columbia)

March 31, 2022
A healthy democracy must counterpoise the right of access to information with the privacy rights…

Ontario Will Require Employers to Disclose Electronic Monitoring

February 24, 2022
There has been a gap in protection for workers in our privacy laws for a…

Bill C-11 was the gift that needed returning

November 16, 2021
Sometimes a long-awaited gift that arrives wrapped in sparkly paper disappoints when it is opened.…

RCMP Use of Face Recognition Tool Violated Privacy Law

June 10, 2021
Today Canada’s Privacy Commissioner released the Special Report to Parliament on Police Use of Facial…

CCLA contributes to consultations on Ontario’s AI Framework

June 4, 2021
CCLA was pleased to have the opportunity to participate in the Ontario government's consultation on…

Did We Get The Privacy Law We Need?

November 17, 2020
Canada has a new privacy legislation on the table, and it’s a buffet, but time…

Submission to the Special Committee Reviewing BC’s Personal Information Protection Act

October 23, 2020
On August 14th, CCLA made submissions to the Special Committee to Review BC’s Personal Information…

CCLA’s Submissions Regarding Ontario’s Private Sector Privacy Reform

October 23, 2020
On October 16th, CCLA made submissions in response to the Ontario government’s call for input…

Québec Looks to Break Trail as Canada’s Foremost Privacy Leader

October 20, 2020
The National Assembly of Québec is now considering Bill 64, ‘An Act to Modernize Legislative…

What Do We Want? Stronger Privacy Laws. When Do We Want Them? Now

August 26, 2020
It has become routine to start all commentary on privacy laws in Canada with a…

Canada’s Patchwork Privacy Protections are Ready for a Major Update

January 1, 2020
The digital economy and the pressing need to democratise civil society have forced us to…

Canadians Care about Privacy, Politicians Need to Show They Care About Us

December 19, 2018
73% of Canadians are concerned or somewhat concerned about how political parties use personal information…

It’s time to modernize the laws that protect our privacy rights

September 28, 2018
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) will challenge the Government of Nova Scotia’s exceptionally broad injunction limiting…