Privacy

RCMP record keeping needs work, says Privacy Commissioner

November 11, 2014

Canada's Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) cannot tell whether it complies with federal privacy law when gathering information about citizens without a warrant, according to the Canadian Privacy Commissioner's annual privacy report.

The Commissioner attempted to audit the RCMP's collection of subscriber data from telecommunications service providers without warrants. It searched the organization's records, but found that it couldn't extract the relevant data.

"In only limited instances were we able to identify a link between requests made for wireless access to subscriber information and the files that contain such requests," the report said.

The RCMP said that it would establish a working group to better monitor and report on warrantless requests for subscriber information. It will report back to its Departmental Audit Committee in April 2015.

The Commissioner's report also highlighted a record high in voluntarily reported data breaches by government organizations. It received reports of 228 data breaches across the federal government, up from 109 in the prior year.

Among the biggest offenders was Correctional Service Canada, which reported 22 incidents. The Canada Revenue Agency reported 33 incidents, while Citizenship and Immigration Canada revealed 54 privacy breaches. The leader, however, was Veterans Affairs Canada, which reported 60 privacy incidents. It was responsible for over a quarter of all federal agency breaches documented throughout the year.

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