Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien holds a news conference to discuss his annual report in Ottawa on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Statistics Canada’s request for banking data prompts privacy investigation

Statistics Canada can compel businesses to supply a wide range of data

Federal privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien says he is investigating Statistics Canada’s request for private banking information on 500,000 Canadians.

Therrien said Wednesday that numerous people have complained to his office about the agency’s effort to gather detailed information on transactions held by Canadian financial institutions, from cash-machine withdrawals to credit-card payments to account balances.

The formal investigation will include an examination of the requests Statistics Canada has made to businesses in multiple industries for data they collect on their customers and business partners, he said.

READ MORE: Annual pace of inflation slows to 2.2 per cent in September: Statistics Canada

Canada’s chief statistician, Anil Arora, said traditional methods of gathering data aren’t good enough to measure Canada’s economy and changes in society.

“More than 75 per cent of purchases are conducted online by Canadians and Statistics Canada has to have access to these data in order to provide all Canadians with the timely and quality statistics they need in areas such as housing and debt and the impacts of transitioning to a gig economy,” Arora said.

Therrien’s last report to Parliament mentioned Statistics Canada’s growing reliance on “administrative data sources,” mainly information collected by businesses about their customers. Many of those businesses have contacted the privacy commissioner to make sure that sharing it is OK, his report said.

Therrien suggested that wherever possible, Statistics Canada should tell the companies involved to strip names and identifying information from the data before sending it over.

“To ensure transparency, we recommended StatCan let the Canadian public know how and why it is increasing its collection of data from administrative and other non-traditional sources,” the report said.

Arora said the privacy commissioner was consulted as Statistics Canada planned its pilot project on financial data, but added he has asked Therrien to take a second look.

Statistics Canada can compel businesses to supply a wide range of data.

“I understand the concerns that Canadians have and want to assure them that their personal information is carefully protected and never shared publicly,” Arora said.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Province not doing enough for forestry sector, say Liberals

Although Minister of Forests says government working to diversify industry, rural economies

Column: how to bring young blood to ranching

A Young Agarians program seeks to partner new ranchers with old

Stolen truck involved in fatal collision on Highway 16

Wednesday’s two-vehicle crash killed one man, 23, and injured two others

Local company Northern Homecraft wins big at Northern B.C. awards

Vanderhoof company won in two categories for homes built in Fort St. James area

Column: the 4-H way of life

Local 4-H member Jacinta Meir on what being a member means to her

REPLAY: B.C’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

NEB approves operating pressure increase to repaired Enbridge pipeline

The pipeline burst outside of Prince George on Oct. 9, now operating at 85 per cent

B.C. VIEWS: Setting speed limits in a post-fact environment

Media prefer ‘speed kills’ narrative, even when it fails to appear

Controversy erupts over Japanese flag in B.C. classroom

Online petition demanding removal has collected more than 5,700 signatures

Death toll rises to 76 in California fire with winds ahead

Nearly 1,300 people remain unaccounted for more than a week after the fire began

Trump says report on Khashoggi death expected in a few days

Jamal Khashoggi was a columnist for The Washington Post who was slain Oct. 2 inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul

CUPW requests mediator as deadline for Canada Post offer expires without deal

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau weighed in Saturday night with a last-minute plea to the two sides

Trudeau says he won’t negotiate in public on future of LGBTQ rights in USMCA

Legislators urged Trump not to sign the agreement unless the language was removed.

Price makes 36 saves as Habs edge Canucks 3-2

Late goal lifts Montreal past Vancouver

Most Read