Today, the Center for Law and Democracy released its latest Global Right To Information Rating, which ranks every country in the world according to measurements of government transparency.
TL;DR The RCMP, CSIS, and CBSA collect personal information about Canadians. Here's how to access your personal files.
Canada has fallen to 56th place globally.
The report notes that, "as a country that was once among the world's leaders in government openness, it is unfortunate that Canada has dropped so far down the list."
Still, Canadians can take comfort in the fact that their country scored well above the United States, which, at 69th place, has quickly become infamous for its accessibility issues and corruption.
Despite such a poor performance in the Global Right to Information Rating, Canada still has a relatively impressive mechanism through which its citizens can request information both public and private, including detailed files of personal data.
Through the Access to Information and Privacy Online Request, Canadians can order files from thirty-three government agencies.
Among the most notable of those agencies are the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), and the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA).
All of these agencies claim to collect the "personal information" of citizens and residents.
Canadians can submit requests for their personal files through Access To Information Requests on their official websites. However, each agency makes clear that they have the power to deny those requests.
Some of the information that the RCMP collects, according to its website:
- home address
- race, ethnic and national origin
- credit card numbers
- criminal records
- educational history
- financial history
- medical history
- any identifiable number, including social insurance number
- religious beliefs
- telephone numbers
- employment history within a non-governmental organization
- views or opinions of another individual
Some of these items, including credit card numbrs and "views or opinions of another individual," are particularly concerning.
The CBSA collects passenger travel information, according to its own portal for personal information requests.
The CSIS, interestingly, seems to have removed from its website the portal through which Canadians can request personal information. The link to relevant applications appears to be broken.
CSIS officials did not immediately respond for comment.