Ontario privacy complaints hit new record in 2011, commissioner reports

A record number of complaints and freedom of information requests were made to the office of Ontario’s privacy commissioner last year, according to the commissioner’s annual report released today.

The 277 privacy complaints closed in 2011 set a new record,commissioner Ann Cavoukian said in her report. And a total of 45,159freedom of information requests were made in the province in 2011, up16 per cent from 2010 and another new record.

Cavoukian declared the phrase“ever vigilant” as the theme of her 2011report, citing the need for privacy activists to stay on top oflegislation – or the lack thereof – that could threaten privacy.

The C-30 lawful access bill introducedby Public Safety Minister VicToews got a rough ride in Cavoukian’s report because it would givepolice the ability to track data about individuals over the Internetand mobile devices “without a warrant or any judicial authorization,”Cavoukian wrote.

“This so-called ‘lawful access’ legislation represented one of the mostinvasive threats to our privacy and freedom that I have everencountered in my 25 years. The broad powers proposed represent muchmore – they represent a looming system of what I am calling‘Surveillance by Design,’” Cavoukian added.

Thereport also lauded the City of Toronto for creating its ownopendata portal for access to government data, but chastised Ontario fornot following that example, urging the province to create its own site“up and running by the end of 2012.”

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