OTTAWA — The minister whose department is at the centre of two investigations into the data loss of 583,000 Canadians could soon be called before a parliamentary committee to explain what happened, and how information is being protected.
Meanwhile, the department says it is still conducting an “extensive, in-depth and thorough search” for the missing external hard drive that contained the personal information, including social insurance numbers, of Canada Student Loan recipients who borrowed between 2000 and 2006.
The NDP said Wednesday it wanted Human Resources Minister Diane Finley to testify about the data breach and answer questions about how the government is protecting personal information shared with a credit bureau.
Since the free service was offered Friday, about 4,800 people have consented to having their information shared with credit monitoring service Equifax, according to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada said Wednesday night that the “customized package” from Equifax “will assist in preventing misuse of personal information.” The department declined to provide specifics about the deal, citing “commercial confidentiality.”
“The citizens that I’ve talked to that have had their data compromised are very concerned,” said NDP privacy critic Charlie Angus. ”The government needs to assure the citizens whose data has been compromised that this third-party will protect all the information they (receive).”
On Friday afternoon, the government announced that it was providing credit monitoring services to affected Canadians who consented to have their information shared with Equifax. Equifax will monitor those accounts for six years, flagging accounts so that lenders know data may have been compromised and that they should take extra steps to verify an applicant’s identity.
A lawyer involved in a class-action lawsuit in Federal Court had publicly asked Finley to provide the service free of charge to those affected by the breach, especially as affected Canadians reported being the victims of identity theft. However, it isn’t clear whether those self-reported incidents of identity theft are directly a result of the missing HRSDC drive.
The government faced questions about the breach Wednesday in the House of Commons, including how long the hard drive may have been missing before it was noticed missing on Nov. 5. Three weeks later, the department’s security officer was notified, followed by the privacy commissioner and RCMP. The department publicly acknowledged the breach on Jan. 11.
The government is facing at least four class-action lawsuits over the breach.
NDP looks to summon Diane Finley before Commons committee over Canada Student Loan data breach (external - login to view)