News that Statistics Canada is asking the country’s nine largest banks for the transaction data of 500,000 randomly chosen Canadians, including everything from bill payments to cash withdrawals from ATMs to credit card payments and even account balances, got buried by events transpiring elsewhere in the world.
The government has said it has the legal authority to do so — even without informing Canadians or getting their consent — in order to build a personal information data bank to analyze things like consumer trends and spending habits.
Conservative House Leader Candice Bergen grilled Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about the request during question period Monday following the Global News report that revealed it. [Note: I am not a Conservative. IMHO, this is a non-partisan issue.]
Surprisingly, Trudeau defended the request, claiming that “High quality and timely data are critical to ensuring that government programs remain relevant and effective for Canadians,” adding that his government would ensure that all personal information would be protected and be used for statistical purposes only.
In these days of almost daily Internet privacy breaches, who in their right mind – let alone the country’s PM – would willingly offer up their banking information to a third-party?
All that’s missing here is a robo-call asking Canadians for their Credit Card and Access Card information.
Statistics Canada has said that once the data is compiled by the agency it will be made anonymous in order to remove personal identifiers saying it hopes to have the initiative up and running by January 2019.
Despite Trudeau’s reassurance, readers may remember that Statistics Canada lost nearly 600 sensitive files during the 2016 census process after confidential documents were left on a subway and hundreds were lost after an employee’s car was stolen.
Not exactly comforting news.
Surely, Canadians will vocalize their opposition to this unacceptable intrusion into their financial transactions.