OTTAWA — The federal privacy watchdog says the national statistics agency could not justify plans to collect data about Canadians’ financial transactions without their knowledge or consent.
Privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien says in his annual report today that his investigation did not find Statistics Canada had violated the law.
However it did raise significant privacy concerns about the design of the agency’s programs and the shortcomings of existing legislation.
Therrien says Canadians were right to be worried given the scale of the proposed collection, the highly sensitive nature of the information and the fact the data would paint an intrusively detailed portrait of a person’s lifestyle, consumer choices and interests.
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He says that during the investigation, Statistics Canada officials spoke about their objectives but did not demonstrate why they needed to collect so much highly sensitive information about millions of Canadians.
StatCan ultimately agreed to follow the commissioner’s recommendations not to carry out the collection projects as originally designed, and to work with his office to ensure they adequately respect privacy.