Privacy breach likely result of job cuts: Stringer

Jamie Bennett
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Jordan Stringer is considering joining a class action suit as one of 583,000 former Canadian students whose privacy was breached.

CORNER BROOK — If you’re like Jordan Stringer, you’ve likely spent much of the last week coming to terms with the latest privacy breach at Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.

Stringer was one of the 583,000 Canadians who’s personal information was compromised when a hard drive containing student loan information went missing from an office in Gatineau, Que. The files included social insurance numbers, loan balances, student names and contact information of students who took loans from 2000-2006.

Banking and medical information wasn’t included in the device.

The federal government announced the privacy breach this week and is now sending letters to students who’s information was compromised. A toll-free number has also been set up for citizens who wish to inquire if they are included in the breach.

The loss of the hard drive was discovered in November as the government investigated the loss of a USB key which contained personal information of over 5,000 Canadians.

Stringer attended university from 1999-2005. so he admits he was concerned when news of the missing hard drive spread last week.


Given an apology

After calling the toll-free number and waiting for approximately 20 minutes, Stringer was told he indeed was one of the students impacted by the breach.

He was given an apology and told his banking information wasn’t compromised, but said he’s still concerned and somewhat jarred by the news.  

“It’s a helpless, nasty feeling,” Stringer said. “You put your trust in a large organization and obviously that’s gone out the window now.”

The Corner Brook resident said virtually anyone he’s spoken with who took loans during the time frame in question were similarly impacted.

Although the federal government has announced tightened security measures in the wake of the latest privacy incident, including banning portable hard drives within the human resources department and new data-loss prevention technology, Stringer said it’s simply not enough.

He said he is considering joining a class action lawsuit spearheaded by St. John’s lawyer Bob Buckingham and fears the loss of personal information is the result of the federal government’s austerity measures which has slashed jobs across the country in an effort to streamline government services.

“We all know resources have been cut over the last few years and if you do that, this kind of crap is going to happen,” he said. “The less people and resources you have to keep things secure, eventually the consequences are going to be negative.”

Meanwhile Robert Leamon, president of the Grenfell Campus Student Union, said his office was busy last week fielding questions from students wondering if they have had their privacy breached.

“People have a lot of concerns about being forced to put their information in this system and them potentially, to have it go missing,” Leamon said. “To see this information compromised on such a large scale, that’s pretty troubling.”

For Leamon, the real concern is the fact so many Canadians require student loans for their studies. He said a solution to future incidents could be finding away so that fewer Canadians need to rely on the loan system.

“Students are already burdened with debt, so now to burden them with the potential of having their personal information go missing, that’s pretty scary.”

To find out if you’ve one of the students impacted by the breach, phone 1-866-885-1866.




Organizations: Human Resources, Grenfell Campus Student Union

Geographic location: Gatineau, Que, Corner Brook

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Recent comments

  • katie
    February 15, 2013 - 16:14

    i had a student loan in 2007 and i recieved a letter saying my information was on the hard drive

  • Jen
    February 08, 2013 - 00:04

    Has anyone received a letter that looks fraudulent? I received a letter that stated my information was misplaced, but the government markings look faded and some of the ink is bleeding through from the other side. I have received letters from the government before and they always look so perfect. This one looks very sketchy to me, just wondering if anyone else's letter looks fraudulent. Thanks!!

  • G Heinzmann
    January 24, 2013 - 13:21

    CBGIRL - It is not wrong for people to go after more then monitoring when the contract they had with the National Student Loans Department was breached. I believe that the federal portion of all the students with current debts be wiped clean. If I were to lose my clients information in this way you better believe me the first thing the person that has their information lost is going to tell me is I am not getting paid due to my inability to keep their information secure. So why should it be any different for the government.

    • Brian
      January 25, 2013 - 15:19

      Why does it have to be monetary compensation? This money is coming from other tax payers so it's a win-lose situation. People should be fired over this.

  • nb gal
    January 22, 2013 - 10:13

    It fine to demand SIN changes, you can also change your name - but no one can change their date of birth and all of that information has gone missing. I myself am very afraid for my information to be floating around somewhere - this can impact everyone for many many years to come. Imagine working all your life and then it comes time to apply for your pension and someone else has gotten that as well. David's comment about suing for our own payday makes me angry - I WORK and have always worked - those affected deserve something - we will now have to work the rest of our lives watching our credit scores.

    • CBGirl
      January 23, 2013 - 05:36

      Credit monitoring isn't all that difficult. With all I have done in my life, I made sure my credit is monitored. If you have ever lived with an untrustworthy person who has cess to your mail, had a bad breakup where revenge is a possibility, or worked in an office with less than secure filing cabinets, you should subscribe to monitoring. I get notifications letting me know my credit score has improved and the status of accounts long thought closed. In this day, its just smart.

    • ag
      January 23, 2013 - 19:39

      Actually, you can't change your SIN number unless you are currently a victim of identity theft/fraud. In that case, you are issued a new SIN number. However, your old SIN number remains active and if someone is able to get a loan/credit card using your own SIN number you still remain responsible for that debt.

  • jh
    January 21, 2013 - 13:40

    just a note, the contact number listed on the end of this article is not correct, it should acutally read 1-866-885-1866

    • SE
      January 21, 2013 - 18:40

      Is it not the same number????????????????

    • jh
      January 22, 2013 - 06:39

      they edited the article after i submitted that comment yesterday with the correct telephone number :)

  • david
    January 21, 2013 - 12:26

    Much more likely due to incompetence...lot of that going around, particularly in government. But it's nice to see you'll be suing the governemnt for your own payday at taxpayer expense, all the while appearing to be a "hero for the little guy"..Good job. You'll go far.

    • Jordan Stringer
      January 21, 2013 - 13:39

      David, was your information breeched in this case?

    • david
      January 22, 2013 - 14:37

      It either was it or wasn't. And the answer ain't gonna change whether or not I care, or whether or not I sue the government, or whether or not I vote. Jeez, people here might be better concerned whether their savings are safe from their bank manager! This is what lIving in Newfoundland is what it is, get used to it.

    • Jordan Stringer
      January 23, 2013 - 19:24

      David, you aren't making much sense to me.

  • Shawn
    January 21, 2013 - 08:21

    Rule number one of data security, no portable data storage devices!! Are any of these federal employees actually trained? Very basic mistake that even the Newfoundland health care corporations wouldn't make. I think in obvious idiocy cases like this there should be criminal charges handed out against the employees involved. It seems Government employees enjoy free reign to make serious mistakes like this with little consequence.

    • CBGirl
      January 21, 2013 - 20:56

      I have no idea why this info would be on portable hard drive, unless it was a backup heading into archives. The info is so far backdated. Having credit based primarily on SINs is dumb in this day and age. Certain countries have opted for national identity cards which are required to apply for everything from jobs to utilities, with encryption and forced PIN changes. As for suing the government, Id be on board with a suit to pay for lifetime credit monitoring. Anything other that that is a grab by Mr Buckingham. Too bad SINs couldnt be changed.