TORONTO, July 17, 2012 /CNW/ - Greg Essensa, Chief Electoral Officer,
announced today that Elections Ontario has identified that a privacy
breach has occurred with respect to some Ontario voters' personal
information. This notification applies to approximately 20-25
"There is no evidence that copies of personal information on two USB
keys have been improperly accessed; however, I want to exercise the
greatest degree of caution," stated Mr. Essensa, "and in consideration
of my accountability to the people of Ontario, I am making this
The information at issue is limited to full name, gender, birth date,
address, whether or not an elector voted in the last election and any
other personal information updates provided by electors to Elections
Ontario during that time, as well as administrative codes used solely
for election purposes.
The information does not include how an individual voted. Elections
Ontario does not have such information because the voting process
guarantees the secrecy of the vote. Nor does the information include
Social Insurance Numbers, Ontario Health card information, driver's
licence information, telephone numbers, email addresses, credit card or
banking information, or any other information provided by voters during
the 2011 election to confirm their identity or residence.
The information can only be accessed in an intelligible form by internal
Elections Ontario proprietary software or specialized commercial
As a precaution, Elections Ontario recommends that Ontarians in the
impacted electoral districts monitor and verify their personal
transaction statements from governments, financial institutions,
businesses and any other institutions to detect any unusual activity.
If any suspicious activities are detected, the public are advised to
contact those organizations immediately.
"Elections Ontario has specific policies and processes in place
regarding the management and care of personal information that were not
followed," continued Mr. Essensa, "and therefore I cannot confirm the
security of the information. For that reason, I am notifying
Election Ontario policies dictate that USB keys must be password
protected and encrypted if they are being used to carry personal
information, and that USB keys must be in the custody of Elections
Ontario personnel at all times. Two USB keys carrying copies of
personal information of electors from the 20-25 electoral districts
were not encrypted or password protected and cannot be located as they
Elections Ontario personnel were working with copies of personal
information from 49 of the 107 electoral districts. Their work was
completed on 20-25 of the 49 electoral districts. However, Elections
Ontario and external forensic experts cannot confirm which specific
20-25 of the 49 electoral districts are impacted. For this reason,
Elections Ontario is notifying electors in all of the 49 electoral
districts. A list of the 49 electoral districts is available on the
Elections Ontario website.
"I take this matter extremely seriously," continued Mr. Essensa. "We
have undertaken a rigorous search as well as a full internal
investigation to completely review the circumstances. We engaged
external counsel, Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP, to undertake and guide
a full investigation supported by INKSTER Incorporated, a forensic
security specialist firm. Their investigation is still underway. I have
reported this matter to the Ontario Provincial Police. The OPP is
investigating. I have also asked the office of the Information and
Privacy Commissioner of Ontario to assist Elections Ontario in a full
review of our privacy policies and procedures and to consult with us in
ensuring that this circumstance is not repeated."
Beginning July 18, an open letter from the Chief Electoral Officer will
run in newspapers across the province targeting Ontarians in the 49
electoral districts to notify them further and to recommend what care
they should exercise. A copy of the open letter is appended.
As part of today's notification, Elections Ontario is also releasing the
"Preliminary Report Regarding the Privacy Breach at Elections Ontario",
as prepared by Gowlings. The report is appended. Elections Ontario
will also table a comprehensive report to the Legislative Assembly
about this matter by year- end, summarizing the outcomes of the
Gowlings and INKSTER Incorporated investigations, the OPP investigation
and the Information and Privacy Commissioner's review.
Mr. Essensa also announced today that he has further directed in
response to the breach:
An immediate and comprehensive review of all Elections Ontario policies
and procedures related to the privacy, management, protection and
custody of personal information including staff orientation, training,
management oversight, accountability and audits.
An immediate and comprehensive review of Elections Ontario's Technology
strategic framework, infrastructure, management policies and oversight.
Both activities will be undertaken by external expert resources and will
be directly accountable to him.
If you require assistance regarding this notification or to confirm your
electoral district, please contact our information line at
1-888-ONT-VOTE (1-888-668-8683), TTY at 1-888-292-2312 or our website, www.elections.on.ca. You may also wish to visit the website of the Office of the
Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, www.ipc.on.ca, for further information on how to protect your privacy.
Elections Ontario is the non-partisan agency responsible for
administering provincial elections, by-elections and referenda.
PDF available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/media/2012/07/17/20120717_C8709_DOC_EN_16262.pdf
PDF available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/media/2012/07/17/20120717_C8709_DOC_EN_16263.pdf
PDF available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/media/2012/07/17/20120717_C8709_DOC_EN_16264.pdf
SOURCE Elections Ontario
For further information:
Elections Ontario Media Relations
416.212.6186 / 1.866.252.2152
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