Les Leyne writes:
It’s been more than a decade since the B.C. government responded to a rush of concern about personal information being exposed to U.S. security snoops by outlawing the transfer of provincial data across the border.
The extraordinary scope of the post-9-11 USA PATRIOT Act, which gave U.S. anti-terrorist agencies open access to virtually all privately held data, prompted worries about B.C.’s plans to outsource some data management to U.S. companies or their Canadian subsidiaries.
The government employees’ union filed suit to block one outsourcing attempt over privacy concerns. The information and privacy commissioner weighed in with warnings about the threat, and the B.C. Liberals amended the law to require that government information on B.C. citizens be kept in Canada.
Privacy advocates and almost everyone else heaved a sigh of relief.
But 11 years on, a privacy expert says the supposed protection is a drag on efficient administration of B.C.’s health sector, which has to make do with third- or fourth-rate systems to comply with the law.
Steven Tam, chief privacy officer and general counsel for the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, briefed the legislature committee reviewing the information and privacy law. He said the restriction bars health authorities from buying the best information-technology solutions to their problems. Instead, they have to shop from the limited variety available in Canada.
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