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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



Ottawa, May 29, 2019 -

The International Grand Committee on Big Data, Privacy and Democracy has wrapped up three days of testimony from expert witnesses, government officials, and platform representatives, ending with testimony from Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and the Mozilla Corporation about data security, commerce and consumer protection.

Representatives from Facebook, Twitter, and Google appeared before the committee yesterday, however Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg chose to ignore the committee’s summons to appear. Members of Canada’s Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics have passed a motion to issue a summons to Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg to testify before the committee should they enter Canada.

The next meeting of the International Grand Committee will take place in Dublin, Ireland in November.

“I want to thank my international colleagues for travelling to Canada to be a part of this important conversation. We are all looking for ways to protect the privacy of our citizens and these meetings allow us the opportunity to gather together and share our knowledge and experiences. I also want to thank the witnesses who have provided us with their expert testimony. Thanks most of all to my Co-Chair Damian Collins and Vice-Chairs Nathaniel Erskine-Smith and Charlie Angus. It is clear from what we heard this week that while these meetings in Ottawa are now over, the work must continue, which is why I am pleased to support Ms. Naughton as she begins planning for the upcoming meeting in Ireland in November.”

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

“While Zuckerberg was a no show, we made progress towards greater global co-operation, and the big data platforms agreed on the need for strong privacy rules, public accountability in content control, and corporate responsibility for algorithmic impacts.”

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

“Citizens from around the world saw something extraordinary this week. Legislators came together from across national boundaries and political parties to address the democratic rights of citizens in the age of Big Data. There is a clear message to the data giants: the wild west abuse of privacy is over. We will protect the rights of citizens.”

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

“This International Grand Committee meeting once again demonstrated the determination of legislators from every continent of the world to hold the major tech companies to account. Citizens have a right to know how much data is being gathered about them and how it is being used. Whilst the big companies have built their businesses on data they are often unable or unwilling to explain basic questions about how they gather, use and share data. This is why sustained scrutiny is so important. The world runs on data and we need to know that people’s rights are being respected and protected. I would like to thank our Canadian colleagues for hosting this excellent series of hearings in Ottawa this week.”

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

"This week saw further advances in our efforts to ensure people's data is kept secure and that users of social media can do so safely. We will meet again in Dublin, Ireland, in November when we will discuss these issues and our global efforts to protect free speech whilst ensuring our democratic processes are free from malign outside influences."

Hildegarde Naughton, M.P. and Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment

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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