The Justice Centre opposes the adoption of any national or central bank digital currency (CBDC) that violates the privacy and security of Canadians or that limits inclusion and access. The Canadian public agrees.
On November 29, 2023, the Bank of Canada released the results of its survey on a proposal to adopt a CBDC.
Bank of Canada survey respondents expressed concern about privacy: “a potential digital dollar should perform the functions of bank notes without the need to share personal information. Providing the personal information necessary to enable features that are not possible with bank notes, like automated payments and recovering lost funds, should be voluntary.” (emphasis added)
Respondents expressed concern about anonymity and insufficient legislative protections for privacy. Survey respondents “overwhelmingly valued the privacy and anonymity that bank notes provide and believed the Bank should not collect or have access to Canadians’ personal and spending information. Many of these respondents did not trust the Bank and other institutions to protect or respect their privacy and were concerned that privacy laws…do not offer sufficient protections.” (emphasis added)
Respondents shared that a CBDC should not have tracking capabilities and that collected information should not prevent Canadians from participating in the economy. According to the Bank of Canada, “[r]espondents preferred bank notes because they are not easily tracked. Respondents also said they felt that bank notes would continue to offer privacy and anonymity during transactions over the long term, no matter the government of the day. They were generally concerned about financial crimes being used to justify limiting privacy or anonymity and the effects that could have on other rights and freedoms, such as the freedom for people to make individual economic decisions for themselves.” (emphasis added)
Finally, respondents expressed a desire that the Bank of Canada continue to issue physical bank notes to promote an inclusive economy–one that did not exclude marginalized Canadians from participating in the economy.
With the Canadian public, the Justice Centre stands against any CBDC that tracks the financial behaviours of users, or that limits their privacy, anonymity, or any other protected right, or that excludes vulnerable Canadians from economic participation. We believe that the potential for abuse is so great that the Bank of Canada should cease its investigation of CBDC. We demand that Parliament seriously consider the privacy and security concerns of Canadians in any future discussions about CBDCs. Eighty-two percent of the 89,423 survey respondents strongly disagreed that the Bank of Canada should be researching and building the capability to issue a digital Canadian dollar. Canadians have informed the Bank of Canada that the state should not have access to private financial information; citizens are vulnerable when the state knows what it should not know.
Our position on central bank digital currencies is part of an ongoing project to evaluate the potential impacts of emerging technologies on rights and freedoms in Canada.