inside the man

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Canadian government outsourcing and the Patriot Act

Just to avoid any lack of editorial clarity, I am not a big fan of what the US Patriot Act means for civil liberties (see the ALA on the Patriot Act, The EFF on the Patriot Act, the ACLU on the Patriot Act, and in contrast, the Bush administration on the subject), or any legislation passed in two days, regardless of the events of the day. Now on with the story.

It is not new news that the British Columbia Government and Service Employees' Union has challenged the BC government's outsourcing of its Medical Services Plan data base to an American firm, Maximus Inc. (see the BCGEU campaign site). The argument is that this contract would bring British Columbian's personal information under the the US Patriot Act. The Patriot Act lets the FBI secretly search information held by companies operating in the US without any form of judicial review or notification of parties whose information has been disclosed. In response to this legal challenge, the BC goverment made ammendments to provincial privacy legislation to address this concern. Critics say these ammendments do not go far enough. The BC Information and Privacy Commissioner published this 150 page review (pdf) in October.

You can be certain that all other public jurisdictions in the country are thinking about this while they read the BC Commissioner's report and await the decision of the Supreme Court.


RWM said...

Chris, to be fair, I think the US PATRIOT Act passed in three days and not two. ;-)

The question that begs to be asked is whether or not most organizations even know about this or have thought about the implications of where there data resides.

Also, while the privacy implications vis a vis the Patriot Act are frightening, what about companies that have outsourced their call centres to India? What is the state of privacy legislation there?


thrashor said...

I recall reading somewhere that India currently has no privacy legislation. However, India does have contract law and no legislation, at least that I am aware of, that would override contractual agreements. The Patriot Act, as I understand it, does just this. I might contractually bind an American firm not to disclose my information, but if the FBI goes through the appropriate steps, my contract is meaningless.

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Returned to working as a Management Consultant, specializing in risk, security, and regulatory compliance, with Fujitsu Canada after running the IT shop in the largest library in the South Pacific.

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