BC Privacy Commissioner to examine implications of USA Patriot Act on government outsourcing

BC Privacy Commissioner David Loukidelis has launched a public process to review the impact of the U.S. Patriot Act on government plans to contract out the Medical Services Plan (MSP) to an American company. He has called for submissions from American and Canadian experts and the general public and expects to issue his report by August 13.

The controversial Patriot Act allows the FBI to seize records from U.S. companies secretly and without a normal court order. But Loukidelis says it’s unclear if the law applies to Canadian-based subsidiaries of American companies – and whether medical files from B.C. could be seized by the U.S. government.

Loukidelis stated, “The bottom line is this – does U.S. law affect the privacy of ordinary British Columbians by allowing their personal information to be seized by the FBI in B.C. in relation to the outsourcing of public services to U.S.-linked services?”

Concerns about the Act’s impact on the outsourcing of the MSP — and potentially four other BC government administrative systems — have been raised by labour unions, municipalities, civil liberties groups and privacy advocates in BC.

In announcing his work, Loukidelis said he welcomes input from members of the public, governments, unions, businesses and others. He said, “We are inviting input from all quarters––experts in Canada and the US, governments at home and abroad and the public. I also hope to get input from other Canadian privacy commissioners.”

Loukidelis is calling for input by August 6, 2004, and anticipates publishing his report by August 13, 2004. His call for submissions can be found on his office’s website.

For further information contact:
Bill Trott, A/Director of Policy & Compliance
Telephone: 250-387-5629
Facsimile: 250-387-1696