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Statement on Government Identity Theft Measures

OTTAWA, November 22, 2007 – The Privacy Commissioner of Canada today released the following statement in response to the Government’s proposal to address identity theft:

“The federal government’s planned amendments to the Criminal Code appear to take concrete steps to address identity theft. Identity theft is a crime that can have devastating financial and personal repercussions for an individual and their family.

The proposed amendments will help law enforcement officers stop identity thieves or fraudsters before Canadians suffer actual financial harm.

For the first time, there will be explicit penalties for collecting, possessing and trafficking in personal information. As well, identity thieves will face the possibility of reimbursing each and every one of their victims for the costs they faced as a result of the fraud.

I welcome these measures, but feel the government must move further in addressing what has become an increasingly global problem.

Some countries have accused Canada of being a harbour for spammers – people who attempt to hoax individuals around the world of their personal information. With this information, these fraudsters acquire goods online and in real life, as well as steal the identities of their victims.

We remain the only G-8 country without anti-spam legislation. I am encouraged to hear that the government is considering taking action on this far-reaching problem.

The problem of identity theft is so pervasive, it demands coordination among various government departments and agencies, the provinces, law enforcement agencies and private-sector organizations.

Everyone is interested in preventing identity theft, but no one has overall responsibility for doing anything about it.”

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada is mandated by Parliament to act as an ombudsman, advocate and guardian of privacy and the protection of personal information rights of Canadians.

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For more information and/or media interview requests, contact:

Colin McKay
Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
Tel: (613) 995-0103

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