Saturday, December 18, 2004

Federal Government secrets may be vulnerable to Patriot Act

Today's Vancouver Sun has a lengthy article that reports officials in the federal government are concerned about the security and privacy of information that is handled by American contractors or subsidiaries of US companies. The article is interested, but does not suggest what the federal government is considering doing in reponse:

U.S. law 'threatens Canada's secrets'

OTTAWA -- Highly sensitive personal, military and national security information held by the Canadian government is accessible to U.S. authorities under the Patriot Act, according to a document obtained Friday.

A team of Canadian government lawyers studied the vulnerability of top-secret data after a controversy broke out in B.C. earlier this year over whether British Columbians' personal medical records were being put at risk due to the provincial government's plan to contract out services to a U.S.-owned firm.

The federal lawyers agreed with B.C. privacy commissioner David Loukidelis that the Patriot Act, enacted after the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York, gives the U.S. government enormous ability to probe into the databases of American companies that do business with Canadian governments.

"Their preliminary findings indicate that the Federal Bureau of Investigation could require an American corporation under the U.S. Patriot Act to disclose information under its control, including information held by its Canadian subsidiaries," wrote Mark Seely, an official with Public Works and Government Services Canada, in a July 22, 2004 e-mail to more than two dozen Public Works officials....

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