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New Verdict: Stats Can. is Suspending the Acquisition of Personal Data

Source: GPS by Design

Earlier this week Dr. Ann Cavoukian, Distinguished Expert-in-Residence and founder of the Privacy by Design Centre of Excellence spoke to 580 CRA Radio on the latest verdict of Statistics Canada suspending its acquisition of personal data. After several weeks of debate and discussion, followed by surveys, approximately 74% of Canadians boldly stated that they did not feel comfortable providing access to sensitive personal information.

The initial proposal put forward by Statistics Canada was to gather financial data from 500,000 households and to de-identify the data later. This translates to acquiring personal financial information such as credit card statements, purchases, loans and other sensitive information of nearly 1 million Canadians.

As aptly stated by Dr. Cavoukian,“what is most concerning is that Stats Can. intended to use the data to be able to connect it with other pieces of information they had for identifiable tracking. Although they mentioned that the data would be de-identified, but it would be done so after the fact”.

One of the options that offered by experts such as Dr. Cavoukian and others was for the banks to de-identify the data prior to sharing it with Statistics Canada. Surprisingly, Stats Canada rejected this offer.

Although the verdict provides a temporary sigh of relief, consumers are beginning to share a heightened concern surrounding privacy. In addition to the resounding survey response on the Statistics Canada issue, many consumers are concerned about the data breach that took place at Marriott. Sensitive information such as name, address, birth date, gender, credit card information to even passport numbers was leaked. Unfortunately, Marriott did not realize that the data breach had started back in 2014 due to the lack of establishing proper privacy and security protocols.

Companies need to take privacy and security of personal information seriously and to do so massive investments need to be made in structuring appropriate privacy and security protocols. Otherwise, companies face profound penalties resulting in class action lawsuits, which places an enormous financial and reputational cost.

Click here to listen to the full discussion on iHeart Radio.

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