#Privacy: Lax security at Canada Revenue leads to privacy breaches

Privacy watchdog calls on federal agencies to better handle personal information

The privacy watchdog says weak security practices at the federal tax office led to thousands of files being inappropriately accessed for years without detection.

Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart has more than a dozen recommendations — including better monitoring of employee access rights — to ensure the Canada Revenue Agency protects sensitive information.

Canadians deserve to have their personal information protected, particularly when they provide it to the government under legal compulsion, Stoddart said in a news release Tuesday.

She tabled a special audit of the revenue agency along with her annual report on compliance with the Privacy Act, the law that governs how federal agencies handle personal information.

For the second year in a row, all-time highs were set for both privacy complaints about federal organizations as well as data breaches reported by departments and agencies.

From April 2012 to the end of March, Stoddart received 2,273 complaints from the public, up from 986 over the same period a year before.

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