Don’t worry we are told, your data is safe in the hands of the government.
That’s been the refrain from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau since news broke that Statistics Canada wants to seize the banking information of 500,000 Canadians per year.
“We take the privacy of Canadians very seriously, and so does Statistics Canada,” Trudeau said in the House of Commons.
The plan is to use the force of the law to require Canada’s biggest banks and credit card companies to hand over every single transaction taken in a given year by their customers. And the kicker is, they will be required to do this without the knowledge or consent of their clients.
So StatsCan can get better data on you.
But don’t worry, when they take your name, address, SIN, date of birth and all your financial transactions it will be safe and secure.
Tell that to the 4,500 customers of the Ontario Cannabis Store who had their privacy breached and personal data leaked thanks to a problem with Canada Post, the delivery arm of pot sales in Canada.
Defenders of the government’s Big Brother data grab will claim that StatsCan is much more secure, much more careful with personal data than Canada Post.
Why then was sensitive census data left on a subway by a forgetful employee? Why was there another data breach when sensitive data was left in an employees car which was then stolen?
Canadians value their privacy and want their data protected. Claiming we can trust all of our banking records to the government rings hollow when you realize how often the government has data breaches.
Last week the Conservatives tabled a stack of papers, 800 pages, detailing data breaches by the feds in the last two years alone.
But don’t worry, you banking info and personal data being handed over to the government is just fine, it will all be safe.
Trudeau and the Liberals want this fight to be all about data and science and proving your information will be safe, your privacy secure.
I don’t believe they can ensure that but it misses the main point.
The main reason to oppose this is that what you or I do with our money is none of the government’s damn business.
They have no right to peer through our most sensitive financial data.
The law, as currently written does allow for this but that doesn’t make it right.
Do you really think the legislators that gave StatsCan this power so many years ago could have envisioned such a data grab?
We’ve also come a long way in terms of our expectations of privacy.
Canada’s banks are not fans of this data grab by StatsCan and they are pushing back. So too are Canadians who are calling and emailing their banks at a furious rate.
In less than a week 20,000 people have signed on to a petition to call on the government to back down.
Don’t expect that to happen without more pressure from outraged Canadians to secure their data.
Chief Statistician Anil Arora has suggested StatsCan could delay seizing your banking data but insists he needs it. He also says he needs to take it without asking Canadians for permission or the information will not be useful.
So far, Trudeau is backing him up.
Trudeau sees this as a winning wedge issue, like the fight over the long form census that he keep referencing.
The difference is vast though.
Most Canadians see a huge difference between filling out a form on how many people live in their home, general income range and when they last renovated versus handing over the keys to your bank account.
Trudeau is going down a dangerous path on many fronts here.
He would be wise to change course.
Unfortunately for us, Trudeau is anything but wise.
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