No password on missing hard drive with student loan data

Hard drive. (Fotolia)

Hard drive. (Fotolia)

Mark Dunn, Senior National Reporter

, Last Updated: 1:18 PM ET

OTTAWA — There is nothing to indicate the personal information of nearly 600,000 Canadians on a government hard drive that disappeared in 2012 has been accessed or used for fraudulent purposes — yet.

That's the conclusion of a report tabled in Parliament on Tuesday by the federal privacy commissioner who found that employees at Employment and Social Skills Canada (ESDC) flouted privacy laws, departmental protocols and mishandled sensitive files.

The privacy watchdog said the hard drive containing SINs, names, dates of birth, addresses, phone numbers, loan amounts and balances of 583,000 student loan recipients from 2000 to 2006 was left unsecured for extended periods.

It also stored gender, language and marital status of some students.

Interim Privacy Commissioner Chantal Bernier said the hard drive was not password protected and held information that was not encrypted.

And those handling the device were unaware of the nature of the information stored on the drive, she said.


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