It Is Increasingly Looking Likely That Bill C-27 Will Die on the Orderpaper

When it comes to privacy reform of any kind (ala Bill C-27), it looks like Canadians will be out of luck with this government.

In 2018, Europe set a global standard for privacy reform in the form of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The legislation was in response to the increasing need for government to protect the citizens privacy in out digital world. The reason for this is because private companies have shown a reluctance to respect people’s privacy – opting instead to maximize profit by capitalizing on surveillance technology and, often, selling it off to shady third party data brokers. When massive data breaches happened, those companies often choose to hide the breaches and leaks to the best of their ability because, in their minds, their reputation is far more important than their customers financial well-being.

In short, the “free market” has utterly failed citizens on this front. Some might honestly believe that companies who take measures to protect people’s information would get more business. Instead, companies, at most, pretend to protect people’s personal information by putting up some PR while doing whatever they like with that data afterwards. More often then not, it involves them taking that data and turning a profit from it afterwards.

That is why I have long been a supporter of the GDPR. It represented a government finally taking action and saying “enough is enough” and putting rules in place to tell companies what they can and cannot do with that data. More importantly, it also levy’s actual fines for companies that fail to abide by the law.

The GDPR isn’t perfect by any means. What law is? Enforcement has been known to vary from region to region. Some regions actually enforce the laws while others do what they can to treat companies with kids gloves. It has long sparked calls for an across the board standard to enforce the GDPR. While this is a flaw that is getting worked on, the laws actually being in place is a huge step forward in protecting people’s personal information in the first place.

For a lot of privacy observers, the expectation was that countries like Canada would look at Europe and realize that they are falling behind in the battle to protect people’s personal information from things like surveillance capitalism. The hope was that with some loud voices who are calling on the regulation of “Big Tech” would happily join in and call for privacy reform. After all, if you want to regulate “Big Tech”, privacy reform is an excellent place to start.

Yet, all these years later, Canadian’s are still waiting on the government to take the first step and pass meaningful privacy reform laws. As recently as January of this year, a major privacy scandal involving Global Affairs offered some hope that the Canadian government would finally get a move on with privacy reform. Yet, for the government, the idea was to continue to hit the snooze button with the hopes that this silly little issue would go away on its own.

Indeed, Bill C-27 is far from perfect. Open Media, for instance, has a petition calling on the government to fix the legislation, pointing out that the legislation is only half finished. For me, the bar is even lower. Can the government pass any kind of privacy reform bill at all? It’s a bar so low, you need a shovel to find it. Yet, this is still a bad the Canadian government is struggling to even reach.

When you look at the legislation page, you’ll notice that the bill has been stuck in committee for seemingly ever now. The legislation, after years of delay, passed first reading on June 16, 2022. It entered into committee on September 26, 2023. A slow amount of progress to make those steps in the first place to be sure. The last known sighting was February 12, 2024 and the bill has still not passed committee. Yes, it’s been in committee for half a year now and the clock keeps ticking.

It’s hard to look at all of this and say the government is actually serious about privacy reform. It’s not as though privacy reform is a controversial topic in general. Most Canadians of all political stripes typically see privacy reform as a good thing. Yet, compare that to the hugely controversial Bill C-11 which saw the Conservative party being fiercely opposed to it along with numerous creators across Canada and you’ll notice that the bill took less than 5 months to make it through the entire Senate process. Bill C-18, similarly, also took less than 5 months to sail through the senate process despite the hugely controversial nature of the bill.

Yet, despite the bi-partisan nature of privacy reform, the Canadian government continues to slow walk Bill C-27. The next general election in Canada is scheduled to be no later than October of 2025. Unless Bill C-27 suddenly gets pushed through the process as quickly as the controversial Bill C-11 and Bill C-18 (and even then, things are starting to look questionable), then the chances of Canadians seeing badly needed privacy reform is extremely slim. After all, once the election is called, then bills that aren’t passed die on the orderpaper and have to start the whole process all over again. The best case scenario at that point is that such reforms will be even more years away. The only people who win here are identity thieves and people who profit off of surveillance capitalism. It’s a sad state of affairs, but it is increasingly becoming clear that Canadian lawmakers really don’t care about protecting people’s personal information – even as the need is as big as it has ever been.

Drew Wilson on Mastodon, Twitter and Facebook.

1 thought on “It Is Increasingly Looking Likely That Bill C-27 Will Die on the Orderpaper”

  1. I believe that all the parties looked at the Cambridge Analytica scandal and said” How do we do that without getting caught.” Put another way, the parties believe privacy reform is not in their best interests.

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