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Watchdog to probe Liberals, Tories, NDP for alleged misuse of big data

The Peace Tower is pictured on Parliament Hill on Monday, September 15, 2014. The parliamentary budget officer is questioning whether the Liberals' decade-long housing strategy will alleviate a housing crunch as the government promises. The Liberals unveiled the 10-year national housing strategy in late 2017, which at that time carried with it a price tag of more than $40-billion in federal, provincial and territorial spending.
The Peace Tower is pictured on Parliament Hill on Monday, September 15, 2014. The parliamentary budget officer is questioning whether the Liberals' decade-long housing strategy will alleviate a housing crunch as the government promises. The Liberals unveiled the 10-year national housing strategy in late 2017, which at that time carried with it a price tag of more than $40-billion in federal, provincial and territorial spending. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Canada’s competition watchdog is looking into a complaint about the data-harvesting practices of the main federal political parties.

In its complaint to the commissioner of competition, the Centre for Digital Rights flagged what it calls the large-scale misuse of big data and targeted digital advertising of the Liberal, Conservative and New Democratic parties.

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The centre, established by businessman and philanthropist Jim Balsillie, released a letter today from the Competition Bureau saying it had begun an investigation of the complaint.

The centre has also filed complaints with the federal privacy commissioner, the B.C. information and privacy commissioner, the federal telecommunications regulator and Canada’s elections commissioner.

It awaits responses from those agencies.

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An internal analysis by the federal privacy commissioner found last year that the major political parties failed to ensure people gave valid consent to the collection and use of their personal information.