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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


Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics Publishes a Report on the International Grand Committee on Big Data

Ottawa, June 18, 2019 -

Today, Bob Zimmer, MP and Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics (the Committee), presented in the House of Commons a report entitled International Grand Committee on Big Data, Privacy and Democracy.

From 27-29 May 2019, the Committee and, by extension, the International Grand Committee (IGC) on Big Data, Privacy and Democracy, held multiple hearings in Ottawa. During these meetings, the IGC was made up of members from the Committee, as well as Parliamentarians from 10 other countries: the United Kingdom, Singapore, Ireland, Germany, Estonia, Mexico, Morocco, Ecuador, Costa Rica and St. Lucia.

On 28 May 2019, parliamentarians participating in the IGC signed the Ottawa Declaration, in which they declare their unwavering commitment to foster market competition, increase the accountability of social media platforms, protect privacy rights and personal data, and maintain and strengthen democracy.

The IGC heard many witnesses, including experts and academics, as well as regulators, who provided testimony to help better understand challenges regarding Big Data, privacy and democracy. The IGC also heard representatives from Facebook, Google, Twitter, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Mozilla.

In the report, the Committee notes that Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg refused to appear before the IGC in Ottawa on 28 May 2019. It also notes that in November 2018, Mr. Zuckerberg also failed to appear to the IGC’s hearing on disinformation and ‘fake news’ held in London, United Kingdom. As highlighted in the report, during the IGC, a motion was adopted by the Committee to serve summons to appear to Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg.

In the report’s conclusion, the Committee invites members of the Committee in the 43rd Parliament to continue pursuing the issue of Mark Zuckerberg’s appearance and to pursue the work of the IGC in collaboration with parliamentarians from other countries.

“It was an honour to organize and co-chair the second meeting of the International Grand Committee on Big Data, Privacy and Democracy and I want to once again thank our international colleagues for travelling to Ottawa to be a part of this important conversation. The report tabled today provides a comprehensive overview of these meetings, as well as some of the key testimony that we heard. It is clear the work that we as a committee have been pursuing with regards to data privacy is far from over and I would urge the members that will form this committee in the next Parliament to continue to examine these issues and the work of International Grand Committee.”

Bob Zimmer, Chair of the Committee

“Global co-operation is essential to protecting our privacy, holding social platforms accountable, and limiting the market power of big data. Our committee, working across party lines, has been able to help lead those global efforts.”

Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, Vice-Chair of the Committee

“Late last May, Canada hosted the world to hold the big platforms to account. It was a powerful opportunity to send the message to the tech giants that democracy is back, and that the era of self-regulation is long-gone. I am extremely proud of the work our committee has done to advance the cause of sensible, people-focused technology policy and push back against surveillance capitalism.”

Charlie Angus, Vice-Chair of the Committee

The witness testimony heard by the Committee is available on the Parliament of Canada’s website.

The Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics has 10 members. It is chaired by Bob Zimmer (Prince George–Peace River–Northern Rockies), with vice-chairs Nathaniel Erskine-Smith (Beaches–East York) and Charlie Angus (Timmins–James Bay). The other members are Frank Baylis (Pierrefonds–Dollard), Mona Fortier (Ottawa–Vanier), Jacques Gourde (Lévis–Lotbinière), the Honourable Peter Kent (Thornhill), Michel Picard (Montarville), Raj Saini (Kitchener Centre), and Anita Vandenbeld (Ottawa West–Nepean).

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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