The British Columbia government has auctioned off computer tapes containing thousands of highly sensitive records, including information about people’s medical conditions, their social insurance numbers and their dates of birth. Included was information about such things as HIV status, mental health and drug usage.
Sold for $300 along with various other pieces of equipment, the 41 high-capacity data tapes were auctioned in mid-2005 at a site that routinely sells government surplus items to the public.
“This appalling lapse in security reveals that the privacy legislation the government has passed has not really resulted in a privacy-respecting culture throughout the government,” said FIPA executive director Darrell Evans. “It should sensitize citizens to privacy issues and prompt them to question exactly what and how much of our personal information government collects, and who has access to it.”