TORONTO, July 17, 2012 /CNW/ - Ontario's Information and Privacy
Commissioner, Dr. Ann Cavoukian, is investigating a privacy breach at
Elections Ontario involving the personal information of an
unprecedented number of individuals - up to 2.4 million Ontarians.
On July 5, the Commissioner's office was advised of the loss of two USB
keys containing the unencrypted names, home addresses, dates of birth,
and gender, as well as whether or not the person had voted in the last
election - all included on Ontario voters' lists. The Commissioner
advised Elections Ontario to notify the public of this breach as soon
as possible. An investigation was immediately launched, with the full
cooperation of Elections Ontario, to examine how the breach could have
occurred and the existence of privacy policies and procedures in place
at the province's election agency.
The investigation is expected to be completed in several weeks, at which
time the Commissioner's findings will be released publicly. As part of
her report, the Commissioner will be providing guidance that
organizations can use to limit the possibility of this type of breach
happening in the future.
Commissioner Cavoukian Quotes
"I am deeply disturbed that a breach of this extent, the largest in
Ontario history, involving millions of individuals, could happen at
Elections Ontario - the agency charged with protecting the integrity of
our electoral process."
"Personal information is the currency in which Elections Ontario trades.
It is my expectation that personally-identifiable information will not be stored on USB keys, laptops or other mobile devices - full stop.
That is the message I have repeatedly given over the years. If it is
absolutely necessary, to transfer personal information to a mobile
device, it should first be de-identified or protected with strong
"Given the magnitude of this breach, impacting millions of Ontarians,
the loss of electors' personal information will of course raise
concerns of identity theft. Resources are available on my website, www.ipc.on.ca, to learn how to protect your personal information, and what to do if
you become a victim of identity theft."
About the Information and Privacy Commissioner
The Information and Privacy Commissioner is appointed by and reports to
the Ontario Legislative Assembly, and is independent of the government
of the day. The Commissioner's mandate includes overseeing the access
and privacy provisions of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, as well as the Personal Health Information Protection Act, which applies to both public and private sector health information
custodians. A vital component of the Commissioner's mandate is to help
educate the public about access and privacy issues.
SOURCE Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner/Ontario
For further information:
Director of Communications
Office: (416) 326-3902
Mobile: (416) 627-0737