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… the Charter is meant to protect those expectations on which we rest our belief that our society is one in which we are not exposed to unauthorized clandestine electronic surveillance on the part of the state. I take it to be beyond dispute that just as we hold to the belief that a free and open society is one in which the state is not free to make unauthorized recordings of our conversations, so too it is no less an article of faith in a society that sets a premium on being left alone that its members presume that they are at liberty to go about their daily business without courting the risk that agents of the state will be surreptitiously filming their every movement.
Justice Gérard La Forest, R. v. Wong,  3 S.C.R. 36
Video surveillance in public places has been a hot topic in Winnipeg these days. Touted as a tool for crime prevention and security, Winnipeg City Council recently approved a Surveillance Camera Pilot Project for 20 to 30 cameras in so-called high crime areas of the City.1 Toronto established a similar pilot project at a cost of $2 million for 22 cameras, not including the costs related to monitoring or associated police time.2 Winnipeg City Council has also approved the installation of cameras on each of Winnipeg Transit’s 535 buses at a cost of about $3 million.3 The proliferation of cameras in public places should concern us all.
Through the ages new inventions and discoveries have dramatically increased the volume, speed and range of information transmission.
Without fail, every major advance in communication has caused widespread social change. Today, we are once again in the midst of a communications revolution, this one driven by digital technology.
In just a few decades computers have greatly increased what we can know and how fast we can know it. They have also brought social consequences which we, as a society, have yet to examine.
The human genome project
In the very near future researchers involved in the Human Genome Project will have deciphered humankind's genetic code. This knowledge will make it possible to detect families with heritable medical conditions and to identify individuals at high-risk of developing a hereditary disease. Researchers will be able to tag and track individuals over their lifetime and families across generations.
Comments on proposed changes to consent under The Personal Investigations Act
October 13, 2005
The Manitoba Association for Rights and Liberties (MARL) appreciates the opportunity to comment on the proposed changes to The Personal Investigations Act and, in particular, the manner of obtaining consent to personal investigations. MARL is a non-profit group, founded in 1978, dedicated to advocacy and education in aspects of human rights and civil liberties affecting Manitobans.
October 28, 2004
A guaranteed way to increase arrests and convictions for drug possession, gang membership, illegal weapon ownership and other crimes is to give our police free rein over all aspects of our lives. If we as a society decide that eliminating these kinds of crime is more important than our right to privacy, then we cannot complain if the authorities frisk us as we walk down the street, search our homes without notice or cause, or question us about why we're keeping the friends we do. We have rightly not traded away our rights to privacy in this manner--it is simply a price that most of us are not willing to pay in free society.
The Manitoba Association for Rights and Liberties (MARL) has made presentations a number of times on The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act including a submission on the discussion paper which led to the present Act, a presentation to the legislative committee on Bill 50 and submission on the review of the Act in 2000. The recommendations which follow are largely consistent with these previous submissions.
This document is MARL's response to the discussion papers Access to Information and Privacy Protection for Manitoba (Manitoba Culture Heritage and Citizenship, May 1996) and Privacy Protection of Health Information (Manitoba Health, May 1996 ).
Invasion of personal privacy through the use of computer databases can take many forms. At its most trivial, it is the constant annoyance to tele-marketers calling during the supper hour. At worst, individuals can be seriously harmed by decisions made bas ed on inaccurate personal information.