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The Canadian Green Party left personal data available online

Since Canadian laws on data and privacy do not apply to federal parties, the risk of legal action is minimal

Digital transition - February 10, 2023

On 27 January 2023, CBC News revealed that the Canadian Green Party had left a long list of sensitive, personal data available on its website. It included voters’ names, addresses, postcodes, telephone numbers and dates of birth.

Two days after being warned by CBC, the party had removed the list. It was available on the same page as the party’s internal documents and training videos. These videos explained to activists how to gather as much personal data as possible when interacting with voters.

The information you refer to was never meant to be publicly available and has now been removed. We take data security seriously and have already begun investigations into how it ended up in a publicly available section of our website,” said Kevin Dunbar, executive director of the Green Party.

This breach violated the Green Party’s privacy policy, but probably not federal laws. In Canada, laws on information and privacy do not apply to federal parties. Canada’s election laws require parties to draft privacy policies. But these parties do not risk punishment if they do not respect them.

In a recent report, Stéphane Perrault, Chief Electoral Officer of Elections Canada, spoke out on the issue. “There are no provisions requiring [political parties] to actually take measures to protect personal information…  Elections Canada continues to hold the view that applying these privacy principles to political parties is the best approach moving forward,” he said.

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