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StatCan pokes into Canadians’ bank accounts

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We learned last week that Statistics Canada wants to compel the country’s nine largest banks to hand over the financial transaction data of 500,000 Canadians. That information might include statements of account balances, deposits, ATM withdrawals, cheques written or received, and credit-card use. Social Insurance numbers will also be collected.

All of this was organized without informing the public, in particular those whose bank records are to be scrutinized. After an uproar in the House of Commons, the agency said Thursday it would put the scheme on hold until the privacy commissioner can investigate.

The chief statistician of Canada insisted that our personal information is carefully protected and never shared publicly.

That assurance was weakened by the recent revelation that an employee at Revenue Canada has been fired for illegally searching the accounts of 38 taxpayers and accessing 1,264 accounts. The employee used a sophisticated search engine that tracked surnames and........

© Times Colonist