Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), a department of the Government of Canada, was reeling last month after the personal data of 583,000 Canadians was lost on a portable hard drive.
The drive, which went missing from an HRSDC office in Gatineau, Quebec, contained information relating to 583,000 Canada Student Loans clients from 2000-2006. It also contained the personal information of 250 HRSDC employees. HRSDC informed the public on Jan. 11, two months after the hard drive was found to be missing.
Information on the drive included student names, social insurance numbers, birthdates, contact information and loan balances.
Diane Finley, minister of human resources and skills development, said that a new policy had been introduced to avoid further breaches, including a ban on the use of portable hard drives and USB memory sticks. The government agency has also introduced full credit protection for all of those affected.
"I have instructed that the new policy contain disciplinary measures that will be implemented for staff, up to and including termination, should the strict codes of privacy and security not be followed," Minister Finley said.
Lawsuits by affected citizens have been launched in Newfoundland, Ottawa, Calgary and Toronto. The Liberal party and NDP are both calling for a full investigation into the breach.