Quebec personal data | The sergeant calls for “weapons” and his independence

(Quebec) The Quebec Personal Data Control Authority seeks independence from the underfunded government. The Commission on Access to Information will need to double its staff to be able to do its job as the state considers collecting biometric data on citizens.

Posted on April 29

Charles Le Cavalier

Charles Le Cavalier

“I will not say [qu’on est] Toothless, but we like to be able to bite when necessary. We got the teeth legit, but […] The organization’s president, Diane Poitras, said in an exclusive interview given to Journalism.

Over the past year, the Commission on Information Monitoring (CAI) has received new missions with the adoption of five legislative measures that require them to be given more oversight. CAI has 77 employees. To be able to perform its new job, it will need an additional 79 people. But she is still hungry. Minister Eric Kayer, who is in charge of the file, explained before a parliamentary committee on Wednesday that it was not possible to increase the organization’s budget by about 12 million due to budget constraints linked to the pandemic.

Photo by Graham Higgs, Canadian Press Archives

Eric Kaer, Minister of Cyber ​​and Digital Security and Minister Responsible for Access to Information and Protection of Personal Information

But for M.And Poitras, this situation is not normal, because it is he who sets her budget, Mr. Kair, who is also the one who must keep an eye on her. He, in particular, wants to create a digital identity. In this context, she stressed, while studying the General Secretariat’s appropriations for access to information, that “the situation is clearer than ever that the budget of the National Information Committee must be protected from decisions [du gouvernement] While she is also responsible for his monitoring.”

You wouldn’t imagine that the budget of the Auditor-General or the Advocate-General would be set by the government. “Parliamentarians are the ones who decide their budget,” she said in an interview. She believes that her body should have the same “independence” and “ability to fulfill its mandate” as AG. MAnd Poitras points out that nearly all of its peers in other provinces and at the federal level are independent of government.

important missions

She questions, for example, about the use of biometric data by Legault’s government, but it does not have all the resources to properly monitor this digital transformation.

This is not a trivial, use of biometric information by the state. It takes the properties of an object to turn it into data. This in itself is intrusive.

Diane Poitras, Chair of the Information Monitoring Committee

In the event of misuse or data leakage, it calls into question the “ability of a citizen to identify himself”. M says, “You can’t replace your face, your finger, and your hand.”And funds. It is concerned, for example, about the “proliferation of biometric data banks”.

With such a small budget, file processing times at CAI are also expected to be long. “The new responsibilities that have been entrusted to us, they will suffer the same fate. We will not be able to address them as soon as possible,” she fears.

The supervisory body will not be able to carry out “proactive monitoring”. There are a lot of projects announced or underway: digital transformation, digital identity, health reform, to name a few. Ensuring that all of this is done in a compliant manner is our role as a watchdog.”

support from the liberals

Liberal MP Gaetan Barrett came to the defense of MAnd funds. He is convinced “that it cannot perform its new duties with the budget given to it.”

Photo by Francis Vachon, Canadian Press Archives

Gaetan Barrett, member of the Liberal Party of Quebec

Law 64 on Personal Information alone requires the CAI to carry out about two dozen new tasks.

She must :

  • conducting investigations into compliance with the legal obligations of companies, public bodies and regional political parties, in particular with regard to new obligations (an increase estimated at more than a hundred investigations per year within three years);
  • Carry out inspections of new legal obligations (about twenty per year);
  • Handling confidential incident reports and ensuring follow-up (significant increase expected from September 2022 – other provinces experience and Federal Government proposes 400% increase).

“He’s the information controller, and the minister, knowingly, is going to amputate him,” MP Gaytan Barrett denounced. In his view, Legault’s government is “compromising the security of Quebecers’ personal information” with this budget choice.

In a parliamentary committee, Mr. Barrett indicated to Eric Cair that the $12.5 million demanded by Mr. BarrettAnd Poitras represented only a drop in the bucket compared to the Department of Cyber ​​Security’s budget.

Mr. Kair responded that we must “clarify this to taxpayers who are preparing their tax return at the present time that 12.4 million peanuts”. He believes that the Central Auditing Organization is able to carry out its work with the budget allocated to it, with an increase of 1.5 million in 2022-2023.

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