Monday, December 31, 2012

Privacy commissioner to investigate HRSDC privacy breach

According to a report in the London Free Press, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada appears to be planning to investigate the appalling privacy breach that was announced last week. The language is not as definitive as I would like, however:

Privacy commissioner to investigate security lapse | Canada | News | The London Free Press

LONDON, Ont. - The federal privacy commissioner is poised to launch a full investigation into a security lapse that lost the private information of about 5,000 Canadians.

“I think you can expect that we will be investigating the matter,” Anne-Marie Hayden, spokesperson for the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, said Monday.

The commissioner’s office has already received 100 calls and several official complaints about the loss of a USB stick that contained private medical, employment and education information, as well as Social Insurance numbers.

It would be gravely disappointing if the OPC does not do a full investigation of this breach along with strong recommendations to prevent it from happening again.

Government needs to be held to an even higher standard than the private sector. People do not have a consensual relationship with government. If you do not like how your bank handles your personal information, you can easily switch to another one. If you're not happy with Instagram's new privacy policy, you can close your account. You cannot do that with government. If Human Resources and Skills Development Canada is incompetent in safeguarding sensitive personal information and cavalier in its response, you can't go looking for another Canada Pension Plan provider.

If this breach involved one of the big California-based internet giants, you can bet there would be a full investigation and further calls for order-making powers and the ability to levy fines.

I hope to see a full and public investigation, followed by calls to amend the Privacy Act to bring it into line with more modern provincial statutes that make it an offense to willfully violate the privacy of Canadians.

1 comment:

Gary Shelley said...

The privacy commission is "blowing off" the calls to it's office on this matter and suggest people call the other number in letter. Keep passing the buck!