2011-06-05 Cogent letter to Statistics Canada: my right to privacy is of utmost importance to me (Lockheed Martin in census)
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Mr. Wayne Smith
Ottawa. Ontario, Canada
Dear Mr Smith,
I write this letter in the knowledge that you consider the information requested in your current census form as vital for purposes, which are of little interest or value to me personally whereas my right to privacy is of utmost importance to me.
I respectfully request to be excused from your request for me to provide information, which I regard as an intrusion into my personal and private life. Due to a long career as a management consultant I am very aware of the overabundance of detailed information that is available on individuals the fact of which I find highly objectionable.
However my request to be excused from the current census is based on three important and non-personal reasons:
- I insist on claiming my right to privacy according to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom. By abdicating my Charter Rights to privacy I not only abandon my personal rights but I also abandon the right of every other Canadian to claim their right to privacy. This is not something that I take lightly as I sincerely believe abdication of this right is the beginning of absolute governmental control of the lives of its citizens. Having had a business in China I am all too aware of how intrusive government control can be.
It is my clear and unequivocal opinion that my right to privacy supersedes any need on the part of government to manage its affairs and your request for personal information, accompanied as it was with a threat of legal action, contravenes that right.
2. I am not alone in my profound concern over the choice of supplier for the software support made by Treasury Board. Apart from the fact the choice is part of the industrial military complex of a foreign country, I believe at some point the database that you claim to be secure will be hacked. Are you willing to give me your personal guarantee that Statistics Canada will not be compromised in any way? What price will come directly from you or your pocket if it is? Are you willing to come to my door and apologize to me or will there even be an apology?
Highly competent organizations such as the US Pentagon, Sony Corp., Google, Federal Governmental Departments etc., etc., the list is extensive, have all been the victim of Internet hackers. So what then does it mean when the information provided by your department states that only authorized personnel will have access to the data? In truth it is unlikely that you or anyone else can give absolute assurance that Stats Can will never experience an intrusion of this nature. To my way of thinking the question isn’t IF you are going to be hacked it’s when.
I would ask you to consider the following statement from one of our few trusted civil servants, Jennifer Stoddard, Canada’s Privacy Commissioner. In her “Message from the Privacy Commissioner” she writes; “Technological advances hold out the promise of greater convenience, but sometimes at a cost to human rights such as privacy and the ability to control our personal information. Meanwhile, governments and businesses have a seemingly insatiable appetite for personal information. Governments appear to believe – mistakenly, I would argue – that the key to national security and public safety is collecting mountains of personal data. Privacy often receives short shrift as new anti-terrorism and law enforcement initiatives are rolled out.” Her comments are vitally important to those of us that choose to resist this constant intrusion into our personal lives, of which Stats Can is a participant.
3. In addition, Stats Canada has received over $10,000,000. for information since 1996 from information that it has received through the collection of census data which is repackaged and sold. Your department claims that no individual or personal information is sold but it is combined into consolidated statistical information that is sold; however I would like to point out to you that my information is a part of that consolidation for which Stats Canada is receiving money. I therefore insist that a part of the monies received by Statistics Canada is rightfully mine. If I am to be forced to provide data that is then sold to others it is only reasonable and just that I be compensated for that contribution.
As stated at the beginning of this letter I am a very private person and I more than strongly object to the way that information regarding the personal lives of individuals, including myself, are so disrespectfully collected and utilized for purposes that others profit by. It is of little wonder that there is growing mistrust of all levels of government not the least of which is Statistics Canada.
Finally, I would like to point out that the self-serving admonition on the outside of the envelope that “It’s the law” is a poorly masked threat and I doubt anyone takes kindly to threats.
I realize you believe in the importance of statistical information and the value of that data and it is quite likely that you cannot conceive of anything more important than the statistics you desire but much more important than your need for data is my need for privacy. Therefore, I will not, under any circumstances, respond to your request to provide private information regarding my personal life. I respectfully decline to participate in the current or any other census taking from Stats Canada.
(INSERT: I am not publishing the author’s name at this time. /Sandra)