Public must be consulted about what government is doing with our data before we are forced to use the BC Services Card
VANCOUVER–The BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) and the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (FIPA) are calling for the BC government to put the brakes on the roll out of the BC Services Card.
The BC Services Card is a key part of the BC government’s broader “e-government” strategy – a comprehensive identity management system meant to facilitate online access to government services and the integration of databases that contain citizen’s personal information. Last month, the government announced that the new cards would be launched beginning in mid-February, even though the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner had not finished reviewing the program.
In a statement released today, Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham pointed to a number of shortcomings with the plan, and called for a halt to any further expansion of the Services Card without extensive public consultations on the risks and benefits of data linkage. And while they agree with the pause, the BCCLA and BC FIPA say that it will take more than a public consultation to fix what’s really broken in the government’s plan.
“This government has got to come clean on the card before we are all forced to use it,” said Micheal Vonn, BCCLA Policy Director. “British Columbians have been provided almost no real information about it, and the Commissioner herself says she was only given an “abbreviated time for review” of the program.”
The BC government has a terrible track record when it comes to developing data systems. Just last month the Auditor General blasted the Ministry of Justice’s JUSTIN case management system for poor information security and inadequate measures to “ensure that only appropriate users accessed sensitive information.” Other recent IT flops include the Integrated Case Management system, which the Representative for Children and Youth called a “colossal failure,” and the BCeSIS student data system, which must now be completely replaced at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars.
“The government’s performance on these projects is appalling on almost every level,” said Vincent Gogolek, FIPA’s Executive Director. “We need a public inquiry to get to the bottom of this pattern of privacy invasive, security weak and costly IT adventures, certainly before the latest one is launched. ”