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Volume Ten, Number One   January 2005   www.columbiajournal.ca



It Includes Everything

Records privatization deal a further "betrayal"

Jim Lipkovits


In an unusual about-face and  without the usual fanfare,  the Liberal government has quietly entered into an agreement which will allow British Columbians’ bank account and credit card numbers along with other financial records to be exposed to U.S. government scrutiny.

Following the contracting out of  BC Medical Services Plan records-keeping  to an American company, Campbell’s government has now contracted with another American-based company to privatize provincial revenue and tax services.  It means that British Columbians’ personal information – including a wide range of detailed financial records—will be exposed to potential scrutiny by the FBI and U.S. government agencies, warns the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union.

BCGEU president George Heyman slammed the government for ignoring the recent report and recommendations of B.C.’s Information and Privacy Commissioner David Loukidelis on the issue of privatizing records management.

"It’s another example of the Liberals bullying ahead without heeding the warnings of privacy experts, or without so much as a simple business plan," says Heyman.

Loukidelis  determined  that the conditions of the U.S. Patriot Act create a real risk that British Columbians’ personal information in the hands of U.S.-linked companies can be scrutinized by the FBI and other agencies. He also recommended a series of measures that would protect British Columbians’ privacy.
"They claim they’ve put safeguards in place, but they haven’t implemented the required measures to fully protect British Columbians," says Heyman. "The fact is that the Patriot Act applies, EDS is an American company, and all the records in its possession are exposed."

"The Campbell government is clearly misleading the public and betraying the promise they made to British Columbians that real protections would be in place before any contracts were signed."

Heyman says there’s a long list of personal data at risk. "It includes everything from credit card and bank account numbers, personal property and asset details, individual and family income, and drivers license, vehicle and insurance information. It’s pretty serious stuff that British Columbians wouldn’t want to share with the Bush government," he says.

Meanwhile, Heyman says his union is preparing to launch a public campaign to fight the Campbell government’s recent privatization moves. Efforts to mount a legal challenge by the BCGEU will continue.




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