Theft of laptops exposes personal information

In 2008-2009, several federal departments and agencies reported the theft of laptop computers and flash drives containing the personal information of Canadians.

In one instance, a laptop was stolen from the Canadian Canola Growers Association, which administers a federal loan guarantee program for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). The computer contained information on 31,160 applicants, including some businesses. Although the laptop was password protected and had a biometrics feature designed to limit access, it would have been possible to read the data by removing the hard drive and installing it on another computer.

As a result of that incident and our representations, AAFC developed and implemented:

  • a new agreement for services provided by third parties;
  • a comprehensive data-sharing agreement for third parties delivering AAFC programs, clarifying all roles and responsibilities under the Privacy Act;
  • a privacy breach policy.
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