Federal government ministries and agencies were asked to provide statistics on data breaches to the House of Commons. They responded this week, and if you are to take their figures as accurate, 144,000 Canadians have been affected by a federal government data breach over the past two years. It’s not nothing, but ... really?
This news, coupled with the statement from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner that they have found strong indications of systemic underreporting, suggests that there is still a lot of work to be done in order to protect the personal information of Canadians when in the hands of government. Of course, for the federal government, reporting a breach is merely a policy requirement as opposed to a legal one and that is something that ought to be fixed as part of the Privacy Act’s modernization. After all, why hold the private sector to a higher standard than government institutions? Makes no sense and the message it sends isn’t a good one.
Speaking of government’s [mis]use of personal information, another story that made headlines this week was about how law enforcement agencies in Canada are starting to admit that they have used sophisticated facial recognition algorithms as part of law enforcement activities. It sounds like the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario office is at least one regulatory authority that is looking into it, but this, too, makes me wonder why our public sector laws don’t legally require public institutions to do privacy impact assessments. It’s a requirement in Europe and hopefully one that will catch on here, too.
Before I let you go, I’ve got an update on the Commissioner’s Game Show at our upcoming IAPP Privacy Symposium. As mentioned last week, it will be a Dragon’s Den concept with three or four individuals making their pitch to three or four commissioners/dragons, who are all confirmed. I’m a bit afraid of my job as host because I can see this falling off the rails pretty easily. Now, c’mon, I’m sure you want a front row seat for this spectacle. By the way, registration to the Symposium opened this week so you can officially book your ticket. Do so early in order to take advantage of the early bird rate.
Have a great weekend.
If you want to comment on this post, you need to login.