Saturday, December 04, 2004

Province apologizes in privacy snafu (Globe and Mail)

The Globe and Mail, in today's edition, has more information on the most recent breach of privacy to hit the presses:

The Globe and Mail: Province apologizes in privacy snafu:

"The Ontario government appears to have made a major privacy gaffe, mailing out thousands of cheques this week that included wrong names and social insurance numbers.

Government officials said yesterday that as many as 27,000 cheques were sent out with incorrect confidential information.

Ontario Management Board chairman Gerry Phillips blames human error and a new computer system for the security lapse.

'I take this matter extremely seriously and apologize on behalf of the government for this unacceptable release of personal information,' Mr. Phillips said. 'I want to assure the public that government officials have identified the cause of the problem and have taken steps to ensure this does not happen again.'

The cheques were issued with the correct names of the recipients, but the cheque stub contained the name of someone else as well as a social insurance number and home address.

The cheques were part of the Ontario government's child-care supplement for working families.

The issuing bank for the cheques was the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, which was implicated in a separate privacy breach last week that involved the transmission of confidential bank customer data to a business in West Virginia.

'CIBC is not in any way involved in this error made by the Ontario Ministry of Finance,' bank spokeswoman Susan McDougall said in a statement. Ministry officials were also quick to stress that the CIBC played no part in the error."

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