Extent of how Canadians' online data used 'very surprising,' MP says

A member of the parliament's standing committee on access to information, privacy and ethics says he and his colleagues "didn't know what we didn't know" until they started researching what happens to data shared online.

MPs spent 2 weeks grilling technology and social media companies about online privacy

Kitchener Centre MP Raj Saini said the extent of data sharing is extensive, far beyond what many Canadians can imagine.

It's known that companies use the information Canadians post online to target individuals, but the extent of how much  that data is used is "very surprising," according to Kitchener Centre MP Raj Saini.

Saini, who sits on parliament's standing committee on access to information, privacy and ethics, has been taking part in hearings over the last two weeks looking at online privacy in Canada. Members grilled technology and social media companies, including Facebook, about how they use the data Canadians share online.

"Like most Canadians, I take certain things for granted," Saini said.

"Just realizing the extent of what is put out in the public and the extent of how that information is being used — to me it was very surprising." 

AggregateIQ questioned

Committee members had the chance to question a number of key industry leaders, including Kenneth Chan, director of public policy for Facebook's Canadian division, and a representative from AggregateIQ.

A whistleblower has alleged AggregateIQ was used to sidestep the Brexit campaign spending limits — an issue which came up during the hearings and created heated debate.

Although the alleged infraction occurred outside Canadian jurisdiction, Saini said it has implications for Canadians.

"If data is being used in a way which is not right in another jurisdiction, my responsibility — as a legislator — is to make sure that we have the proper in Canada to make sure Canadians data is protected," he said. 

Saini said the committee intends to study the issue further in the weeks ahead and will invite more witnesses to appear for questioning. 

Listen to the whole interview with MP Raj Saini:

Kitchener Centre MP Raj Saini speaks to host Craig Norris about the past two weeks of hearings, speaking to technology and social media companies about online privacy and data mining. 6:30