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Malfunction in Veterans Affairs computer leads to unauthorized data disclosure

A computer error led officials at Veterans Affairs Canada to improperly disclose the personal information of several people in response to an access to information request.

The personal information included the names of nine individuals (including the requester) who were erroneously identified as having received $20,000 compensation payments for exposure to dangerous U.S. military defoliants when, in fact, their claims had been denied.

The names of people who received the one-time, tax-free payments related to the testing of unregistered herbicides such as Agent Orange at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown in New Brunswick in 1966 and 1967 are not considered to be personal information as they are listed in the Public Accounts of Canada. However, because the complainants had been denied the compensation, their names in connection to these payments are deemed to be personal information.

In the wake of this breach, Veterans Affairs Canada corrected the system error that led to the disclosure. The affected individuals were also notified and advised of their right to complain to our Office.

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