Over on PHIprivacy.net, I’ve been covering a privacy breach involving the medical/psychiatric records of a veteran. The case has cause quite a stir in Canada with calls for additional measures and investigation. Here’s an editorial in today’s Globe and Mail:
Sean Bruyea is a Canadian veteran of the Gulf War whose sensitive medical files were treated as an open book in the Veterans Affairs department. His personal information was written unnecessarily into briefing notes to the minister in both a Liberal and a Conservative government, according to Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart.
Ms. Stoddart says she will do a wider audit to determine if there is a systemic privacy issue. If she does find one, she will have the power to recommend policy changes to protect privacy. But she does not and will not impute motives to anyone. The problem is that policy tweaks are not enough to address the loss of public confidence in Veterans Affairs.
Only this country’s political leaders can restore that confidence. Leadership at the highest level is required. All Canadians, not just veterans, need to know the government is willing to get to the bottom of the misuse of veterans’ personal files. Veterans Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn needs to explain why this happened and how long it went on. Prime Minister Stephen Harper needs to ensure that unprofessional and probably illegal intrusions on veterans’ privacy has stopped.
Canada needs to make a commitment to treat its veterans fairly and with respect. Ms. Stoddart’s report calls that commitment into question.
You’re welcome to come over to PHIprivacy.net and sound off: what do you think should happen next?
Thanks to the reader who sent in the link to the editorial.