Follow-up: B.C. privacy czar to probe files breach

Rob Shaw and Lindsay Kines report:

B.C.’s privacy commissioner has launched his own investigation into how sensitive information from 1,400 income-assistance clients ended up at the home of a government employee.

Information and Privacy Commissioner David Loukidelis said he has tough questions for the provincial government, including how the employee, a government case worker, was able to smuggle the information out of his office and to his home.

“The really pressing question is, what are the information-management practices that allow someone to take files home?” said Loukidelis. “We’re going to look at, was he allowed to take them home, was this the ordinary course of business?”

Loukidelis said he’s “pretty darn skeptical” the man had clearance to take such information from government offices, although he acknowledged case workers, particularly in the children’s ministry, are sometimes given such permission. The province has called the man’s actions “inappropriate” and fired him.

The RCMP discovered the security breach during the course of an unrelated investigation two weeks ago, the B.C. government has said. The province has so far refused to disclose the nature of that investigation. However, it has sent apology letters to the 1,400 affected people and placed a security flag on their medical service plans.

The information that was removed included spreadsheets full of names, addresses, birth dates, social insurance numbers, personal health card numbers and monthly income-assistance eligibility amounts.

Read more in the Times Colonist.

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