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Despite risk of cyber attacks, political parties still handle Canadians data with no rules in place

OTTAWA–Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould says it’s not the time to implement basic privacy and security rules for political parties’ collection of Canadians’ personal data, despite warning those parties are vulnerable to cyber attacks.Speaking with the Star on Friday, Gould said she decided on a voluntary approach for parties to meet and discuss vulnerabilities with the Communications Security Establishment, Canada’s electronic spying and cyber defence agency.“I think it’s important that we respect the independence of political parties, and we that we ensure that they are able to make those decisions (around cyber security),” Gould said in an interview.“I know that political parties do take this issue seriously, and will be working to ensure that the data they have is protected, and they’re doing their utmost to ensure that their security practices are up to speed.”There are virtually no rules governing how Canada’s political parties collect, store and use information about individual voters gleaned from door-to-door outreach efforts, e-mail campaigns and Elections Canada data.Article Continued BelowThe major political parties, including the governing Liberals, have developed sophisticated data and digital campaigns to help with voter identification and to decide where to focus their efforts and resources.Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould: “I think it’s important that we respect the independence of political parties, and we that we ensure that they are able to make those decisions (around cyber security),” Gould said in an interview.   (Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS file photo)  For years, the Conservatives were dominant in the data-driven campaign. In 2015, data operations was one of the key factors cited by Liberals in their surprise majority win.But while Ottawa strictly regulates federal department and agencies’ use of Canadians personal information, and has rules governing private companies’ collection of data, political parties are largely left to their own devices.

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