B.C.’s privacy commissioner has found the education ministry failed to protect the personal information of 3.4-million BC and Yukon students when its staff lost a portable hard drive.
Elizabeth Denham says the province violated the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
Denham says not only was the information on the drive not encrypted, the drive wasn’t stored in an approved offsite facility.
She’s made nine recommendations to make sure that doesn’t happen again, including following procedures already in place.
The province discovered the hard drive went missing this past fall.
It contained the names, grades and other information of students in the system between 1986 and 2009.
Clark says B.C. will do better
Premier Christy Clark says changes are being made to better protect privacy.
She says her government is trying to keep up with technology, but says that’s a challenge faced by governments around the world, not just hers …
NDP education critic Rob Fleming says that promise of change rings hollow.
“This is the largest data breach in B.C. history and the premier just basically shrugs it off and says, ‘Oh, we’ll get better next time.’ Well, she said that when the health ministry had a data breach, she said that about the ministry of forests breach. This government just doesn’t care. This is all done for a little bit of money. They should never have taken the data off the server and stored it in this way. They broke ministry policies, then they broke the law.”
He adds: “When it comes to protecting their own political hide, with potentially embarrassing information, they’re all over it. They’re triple deleting it, they’re shredding it. It’s quite a dichotomy. On the one hand, routine information that’s collected on all of us is treated in the most shabby fashion. But all the resources are never spared when it comes to protecting their own political hides.”