Monday, October 11, 2004

Article: Who's trustworthy? Canadians, Americans disagree

Articles about consumer privacy are appearing in the traditional Canadian media, spurred it seems by recent debate over the potential impact of the USA Patriot Act on Canadian privacy. The Toronto Star has an article in today's edition that discusses two consumer privacy issues: (a) what companies do Canadians and Americans trust with their personal information and (b) what impact could the USA Patriot Act have on our privacy.

The article is a good survey of consumer privacy concerns and also brings to light some instances of reams of Canadian data being processed by American companies. - Who's trustworthy? Canadians, Americans disagree:

"Prospect of U.S. Patriot Act-snooping bothers Canadians


...That means some Canadian consumer information — everything from bank and insurance records to medical data — could be under surveillance by U.S. authorities without our knowledge.

"I think it's a real issue," says Ponemon. "If a company that's in the U.S. has your e-mail and you happen to be a Canadian citizen, by default the e-mail may be viewed and selected for deeper analysis and investigation by U.S. law enforcement."

Think it's a stretch?

Consider that Rogers Cable has a close partnership with U.S. Internet giant Yahoo Inc., which now manages all e-mail for Rogers' high-speed Internet customers. Consider that Bell Canada has a similar relationship with Microsoft's MSN portal.

...Outsourcing is the culprit. Both the CIBC and Royal Bank of Canada have their credit card operations managed by Total Systems Services Inc., which is based out of Georgia and is under the jurisdiction of the Patriot Act.

Consider that Royal Bank was ranked third in Ponemon's survey [of most trusted companies].

If the issue of outsourcing brews into an even larger privacy concern for Canadians, it's conceivable that Royal could fall off the list while those banks that don't outsource to the United States rise to the top.

The implications of data outsourcing aren't something to ignore. All companies need to consider them if they wish to remain trustworthy in the eyes of Canadian consumers."

No comments: