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Release of the report about political parties and protection of personal information

20 February 2019

Categories: Institutional, Parties and other political entities

On February 20, 2019, Élections Québec published a report that aimed to shed light on issues related to the protection of personal information held by political parties.

This video is available in French only.

In Quebec, personal information is protected by legislation that applies to private companies, ministries, and public agencies. Currently, political parties are not subject to these laws. Furthermore, the Elections Act does not clearly specify the purposes for which parties may use the personal information they hold.

In addition, we note that political parties constitute databases containing personal information. We are concerned about the lack of oversight on these practices.

Summary of our recommendations

Political parties should be subject to privacy legislation.

  • This legislation could be based on recognized key principles such as transparency, consent, and the adoption of security measures.
  • Personal information held by the parties would thus benefit from the same protections as those held by public and private organizations in Quebec.
  • Similar obligations could also be imposed on municipal political parties, representatives, and candidates for provincial, municipal, and school elections.

Élections Québec should send the list of electors to political parties only once a year, outside an election year, with the sex and date of birth of electors removed.

  • We are the only election administration in Canada that provides parties with information from the list of electors three times a year, including date of birth.

The National Assembly should mandate a special committee to study these issues.

  • This would allow to strike a fair balance between the political parties’ willingness to effectively reach out to voters and the expectations of the latter with respect to the protection of their privacy.
  • Many people are affected by these issues, including the chair of the Commission d’accès à l’information, experts on the subject, as well as Quebec electors. Such a forum would allow everyone to be heard.

Technologies are evolving, as are the challenges surrounding the protection of personal information. Laws must evolve to reflect these new realities. Our recommendations are meant to provide the basis for a broader reflection on the oversight of political parties with respect to the protection of personal information.

To view all our recommendations:

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