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Ottawa’s new privacy laws fail to regulate political parties’ vast data operations, critics say

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau phone canvassing at Liberal headquarters in Ottawa in October 2016.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau phone canvassing at Liberal headquarters in Ottawa in October 2016. The Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld
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The Liberal government ignored longstanding calls to bring federal political parties under national privacy laws and regulators in its proposed overhaul of personal-information protections for consumers, according to privacy experts and members of the opposition. 

Political parties collect and analyze an ever-greater amount of data about Canadians, data that is increasingly important in how they run election campaigns and fundraise. Critics say the country’s election laws are insufficient to govern the use of that data. “The feedstock of political parties is personal information of individuals,” said Gary Dickson, a former Saskatchewan privacy commissioner and Alberta MLA, calling the decision not to regulate parties under the new Consumer Privacy Protection Act (CPPA) a “missed opportunity.”

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