ID needs re­vamp, Des­jardins CEO tells MPs

The Prince George Citizen - - Money - Chris­tian PAAS-LANG

OT­TAWA — The cur­rent sys­tem for iden­ti­fy­ing Cana­di­ans is in­ad­e­quate for the dig­i­tal age, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Des­jardins Group told MPs in an emer­gency par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee meet­ing Mon­day grap­pling with the fall­out of a ma­jor data breach at his fi­nan­cial-ser­vices com­pany.

The breach, re­vealed in June, saw the leak of names, ad­dresses, birth­dates, so­cial-in­surance num­bers and other pri­vate in­for­ma­tion from roughly 2.7 mil­lion peo­ple and 173,000 busi­nesses.

Des­jardins, a Que­bec-based co-op­er­a­tive, said a sin­gle employee, who has been fired since the breach was de­tected in De­cem­ber 2018, was re­spon­si­ble. A po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the in­ci­dent is on­go­ing.

CEO Guy Cormier said he was “am­biva­lent” about the com­mit­tee meet­ing be­cause he thought it was “pre­ma­ture” to dis­cuss the sit­u­a­tion while the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is still on. But he said his com­pany is com­mit­ted to be­ing transparen­t and work­ing with au­thor­i­ties on the is­sue.

“We must all learn from what Des­jardins has un­der­gone,” Cormier said in French.

Cormier told law­mak­ers on the House of Com­mons’ pub­lic-safety com­mit­tee that al­though he could not rec­om­mend a par­tic­u­lar new regime for iden­ti­fy­ing peo­ple in the dig­i­tal age, “the sta­tus quo is not an op­tion” when it comes to pre­vent­ing iden­tity theft and pro­tect­ing pri­vate data.

He rec­om­mended the gov­ern­ment con­vene a spe­cial work­ing group made up of rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the gov­ern­ment, the fi­nan­cial sec­tor, telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions, le­gal ex­perts and oth­ers to de­ter­mine a new frame­work for data and pri­vacy in Canada.

Though it bore some re­spon­si­bil­ity, Des­jardins “is also a vic­tim in this,” Al­berta MP Glen Motz said.

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