Green Party of Canada

Green Party of Canada

January 12, 2006 10:19 ET

Safeguarding the privacy of Canadians: a national priority

Attention: Assignment Editor, City Editor, News Editor, Photo Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Jan. 12, 2006) - Green Party MPs would introduce legislation to compel banks, credit agencies and other institutions to disclose when the privacy and security of their customers personal information has been compromised, said Green Party leader Jim Harris today.

The law would also regulate the outsourcing of credit card bill processing to the United States - currently a common practice among Canadian-based credit companies, which exposes Canadians to fraud and even identity theft.

"It is shocking how many security breaches there are among credit card companies and banks," said Mr. Harris. "Identity theft costs consumers and businesses some $2.5 billion a year. Yet, many Canadians are never told that their personal information may have been stolen."

Even Canadian law enforcement, it seems, isn't immune from data theft. Late December, several police forces were compromised when thieves electronically "looted" the U.S.-based company that stored private and financial data for them. Both the RCMP and the Ontario Provincial Police Force, the country's two largest police agencies, were affected.

In November, a journalist from Maclean's magazine was able to purchase seemingly confidential phone and personal records of none other than Jennifer Stoddart, Canada's Privacy Commissioner.

These examples should give pause to anyone who banks or uses their credit card online. But credit card companies are often reluctant to publicly divulge a security breach, even if it would be beneficial to their clients.

The Green Party legislation would require credit card and other companies to do just this, regardless of the size or scope of the breach. A similar law was passed in California in 2003, which made such disclosure mandatory. Thirty-five states have since followed suit.

The Canadian law would complement and help streamline existing privacy legislation. The Green Party would also introduce a consumer bill of rights that would outline exactly what Canadians can expect from their credit companies - including the right to know if their accounts are being processed in the U.S., potentially exposing them unknowingly to the U.S. Patriot Act.

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For More Information
Derek Pinto
Media Relations Officer, Leader's Tour
416.618.0613
David Kay
Media Relations Officer, Leader's Tour
514.250.4346

/For further information: www.greenparty.ca

Derek Pinto
Media Relations Officer, Leader’s Tour
416.618.0613
/ IN: POLITICS

Contact Information

  • David Kay, Media Relations Officer, Leader’s Tour
    Primary Phone: 514-250-4346
    Secondary Phone: 416-618-0613
    Toll-Free: 866-868-3447
    E-mail: media@greenparty.ca