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ETHI Committee News Release

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Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics
House of Commons / Chambre des communes
Comité permanent de l'accès à l'information, de la protection des renseignements personnels et de l'éthique

For immediate release


NEWS RELEASE


International Grand Committee on Big Data, Privacy and Democracy Signs Joint Declaration

Ottawa, May 28, 2019 -

Members of the International Grand Committee on Big Data, Privacy and Democracy have signed a Joint Declaration reaffirming their commitment to protecting fair competition, increasing the accountability of social media platforms, protecting privacy rights and personal data, and maintaining and strengthening democracy.

The document also declares the willingness of members to continue the work of the International Grand Committee with these objectives in mind.

The signing followed the morning’s testimony from Roger McNamee, Author of Zucked: Waking up to the Facebook Catastrophe, Shoshana Zuboff, Author of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, Maria Ressa, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Editor of Rappler Inc, and Jim Balsillie, Chair of the Centre for International Governance Innovation.

The Committee also heard testimony from representatives from Facebook, Twitter and Google. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg chose to ignore the Committee’s subpoena.

In response, the Committee adopted a motion to serve either or both Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg with a formal summons should they arrive in Canada to appear before the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.

“Together we represent over 402 million citizens. Mark Zuckerberg’s unwillingness to appear before us and give personal testimony is further evidence that his public comments about working with lawmakers rings hollow. With the signing of this joint declaration, I look forward to continuing to collaborate with our international colleagues on finding ways to protect the privacy of our citizens.”

- Bob Zimmer, M.P. and Chair of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics

"As we increasingly live our lives online, and as companies and social media platforms increasingly profit from big data and our personal information, we deserve strong privacy protections, a competitive marketplace, and a strong regulator to hold these companies accountable."

- Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, M.P. and Vice-Chair of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics

“This declaration is the first step towards reasserting the internet as an open, democratic space for citizens, and towards a digital economy that works for more than the very largest companies. We are going to move forward with or without Mark Zuckerberg’s input.”

- Charlie Angus, M.P. and Vice-Chair of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics

"Today’s evidence session of the International Grand Committee has underlined the need for a legal framework to be established to regulate the major social media companies on data privacy and protecting users from harmful content.

It is the business models of these companies which have caused many of the problems we face today. That’s why we cannot rely on companies like Facebook to solve them. Mark Zuckerberg’s persistent refusal to appear in front of this committee shows he does not want to be held to account for the record of his company, nor even to engage openly in the debate about the future regulation and oversight we need in this sector."

- Damian Collins, M.P. and Chair of the UK Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee

Later this afternoon the Committee will hear from Daniel Therrien, Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Joseph A. Cannataci, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy, and Ellen Weintraub, Chair of the United States Federal Election Commission.

Representatives will then gather together for a dinner reception to hear from each delegation about the work their countries are doing on the issues surrounding privacy protection in the digital age. Members of Canada’s Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics will highlight the 26 recommendations the Committee made in its report: Democracy Under Threat: Risks and Solutions in the Era of Disinformation and Data Monopoly.

Tomorrow morning the International Grand Committee on Big Data, Privacy and Democracy will hear testimony from Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and the Mozilla Corporation.

Link to agenda

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For more information, please contact:
Michael MacPherson, Clerk of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics
Tel: 613-992-1240
E-mail: ETHI@parl.gc.ca