Privacy Protectionism

This month the B.C. government passed a law to prevent the U.S. from examining information on British Columbians that is in possession of private U.S. companies.

The CBC reports on information about Canadians being sent to the US for processing, and the attendant legal risks. In Canada, they have strong-sounding data-protection laws that they don’t enforce, while the US has weak laws which give better protection to your video rentals than your medical history.

This doesn’t strike me as being about privacy, as much as protecting Canadian jobs. As Michael Geist points out, the new law only applies to data collected by the BC government, not data collected about the residents of that province. So the government can’t hire an American processing firm with possible economies of scale.

If the BC government really wanted to protect the privacy of its citizens, it might start by collecting less data, so that it wasn’t subject to these orders.