Analog laws for the digital age

Statistics Canada, by its very name, is in the business of statistics. And a lot of very valuable information is to be had, courtesy of StatsCan.

Want to know the quarterly population estimate? The unemployment rate? The Real GDP by expenditure? Area, production and farm value of potatoes, by harvest season? Estimated areas, yield, production of corn for grain and soybeans, using genetically modified seed, Quebec and Ontario, in metric and imperial units?

All this information is available on the StatsCan website.

They’ve got data for days.

But does StatsCan need, or have a right, to harvest your personal financial transaction information?

Thankfully, Canada’s Privacy Commissioner says no. Daniel Therrien released his annual report last week, and in it he details two privacy invasive data collection projects at Statistics Canada.

The programs involved the collection of credit histories and the proposed mass collection of line-by-line financial transaction information from banks without the knowledge or consent of affected individuals. In other words, the banks would pass on the information and did not even have to inform you that they had done so.

Therrien did not find StatsCan broke any privacy laws by proposing this data mining, but he says the agency did not demonstrate the necessity of collecting so much highly sensitive information about millions of Canadians.

Just imagine. The government would have information about your daily financial transactions, and those transactions can tell anyone a whole lot about your lifestyle. Without you even knowing that information has been released.

“Canadians were deeply troubled by these initiatives,” says Commissioner Therrien. “This concern was clearly justified given the scale of the proposed collection, the highly sensitive nature of the information and the fact that the information in question would paint an intrusively detailed portrait of a person’s lifestyle, consumer choices and private interests.”

And again, thankfully, StatsCan agreed to abide by Therrien’s recommendations and not go ahead with these projects.

Now StatsCan has said that it isn’t interested in individual transactions, although that’s what it would be receiving if they went ahead. They merely want a picture of Canadians’ financial health, and debt situation. All personal identifiers are stripped from the database, they say.

And, under the Statistics Act, they can have access to that information, although in this instance, they are not going ahead, given the uproar.

The problem with the Statistics Act is that it was written before digital data was a thing. It deals with the collection of written records.

To breach collected data in the analog world, a thief would literally have to break in to a storage vault at StatsCan.

Not so anymore. Now a data thief only has to breach the electronic firewall.

We have heard just this week that there was a data breach at Life Labs, one of Canada’s biggest medical provider of lab services. They even have an office in Kimberley. So some people’s private medical information has been stolen.

It’s a little scary when you think about all the delicate information about you that is floating around in cyberspace. You can only hope that it’s staying where it should and not being shared.



carolyn.grant@kimberleybulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Hotel Kimberley owner Anthony Edwards met with representatives of Mainroad and the City of Kimberley to discuss potential solutions for the amount of ice and road debris that gets plowed onto his sidewalk for him to have to shovel. The next day, he was met with the same problem. Photo submitted.
Hotel Kimberley owner seeks solution to ice, debris plowed onto sidewalk

Hotel Kimberley owner Anthony Edwards wants a solution after years of complaining… Continue reading

The Cranbrook Climate Hub will be hosting a webinar this coming Friday (January 29) that focuses on sustainable jobs. (Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay)
Cranbrook Climate Hub to host webinar on sustainable jobs

Bruce Wilson, former General Manager for Shell, will speak on ‘looking beyond Keystone XL’

Rob Davidson, manager at Buckhorn and Main, created a Facebook group which has connected people and given them a positive distraction throughout the lockdown. Paul Rodgers photo.
Rob Davidson’s Facebook food group a positive, connecting presence throughout pandemic

Since the pandemic hit and lockdown began, people have been in need… Continue reading

South Columbia Search and Rescue called in the Nelson Search and Rescue and Kootenay Valley Helicopters to provide a long line rescue. Photo: BCSAR submitted.
Long-line rescue needed for injured hiker near Trail

Members of South Columbia and Nelson SAR and Kootenay Valley Helicopters did a long-line evacuation

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at B.C. legislature on the province’s mass vaccination plan for COVID-19, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
COVID-19 quarantine not an option for B.C., John Horgan says

Apres-ski parties increase risk, not interprovincial travel

Downtown Fernie is pictured after a snowfall.
Worker at Swartz Bay terminal on Monday, January 20, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Former BC Ferries employee alleges he was fired because of his race

Imraan Goondiwala has been granted a BC Human Rights Tribunal hearing

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker have been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s Civil Emergency Measures Act for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
B.C. couple who travelled to Yukon for COVID vaccine ineligible for 2nd dose until summer

The province is ensuring those eligible to receive the vaccine get the second shot within 42 days

(File)
Mask dispute in court leaves Vancouver cop with broken leg

Man allegedly refused to put on a mask and resisted arrest

(Kraft Dinner/Twitter)
Kraft Dinner launches candy-flavoured mac and cheese just in time for Valentine’s Day

Sweet and cheesy treat will be here just in time for the cheesiest holiday of the year

Most Read