The Commons Ethics Board wants to stop collecting data on mobile phones because of privacy concerns


The Ottawa-Commons Institutional Review Board has called for the cancellation of the Public Health Agency’s plan to collect data from millions of mobile phones as a way to understand travel patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Commission passed a motion on Monday calling on the federal government to suspend plans to extend the collection of mobile phone location data until members are convinced that Canadian privacy will not be affected.

In December, the Federal Public Health Service issued a new request for a proposal to track cell tower-based location data across the country between January 1, 2019 and May 31, 2023.

According to the notification, the data must be accurate, accessible, timely, privacy and transparent. You also need to remove all identification information.

With this news, the Institutional Review Board has begun to hold emergency meetings during the winter vacation of Parliament. There, Conservatives, Bloc Québécois, and NDP raised privacy concerns.

Liberal Party lawmakers pointed out that the data collected was anonymous.

A motion to suspend the plan was passed on Monday, amended by parliamentarians and gained support among political parties.

The move means that the prime minister should now suspend proposals to expand the collection of mobile phone data for millions of people, said John Brassard, a conservative committee ethical critic at the party. Stated.

“There are still serious concerns about what security protocols and measures were taken to protect privacy when we secretly collected mobility data for 33 million Canadians,” he said. rice field.

The Public Health Agency of Canada, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday, previously stated that personal identifiers would be removed from location data from cell phone towers.

He also said he has received advice from privacy and ethics experts, including the Privacy Commissioner.

Along Marie Woolf

Canadian press

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