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Ontario government takes ‘a dangerous step’ in outsourcing government data

TORONTO — The Ontario Public Service Employees Union is alerting the people of Ontario of a government move that could prove disastrous for the safeguarding of personal information in this province.

Over the next three years, the Ministry of Government Services (MGS) will begin to close 18 government-run data centres across Ontario and store some government information on privately-run servers by "cloud computing," which will be accessed over the Internet. This in turn could lead to more and more personal information stored this way, leaving Ontarians vulnerable to security breaches.

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says this is a huge risk for what will be, at best, a minimal cost saving for the government.

"In terms of technology, "cloud computing" is in its infancy," Thomas said. "Once this process starts, it"s a dangerous step down a road of no return. No one can predict what will happen with security."

MGS is being tight-lipped about what information will be stored outside the government"s direct control but says that it"s entirely possible that "transactional" data resulting from citizens filling out a government form online could be stored on private servers. Drivers" license renewals, OSAP applications and Employment Ontario applications for job training programs are all examples of "transactional" data.

"Once this starts, you can"t put this toothpaste back in the tube," Thomas said. "Despite all the so-called security "guarantees," there has been too many tragic incidents of those who have had their personal information hacked. People have lost their homes, their savings and their entire identities. Why should anyone be put at risk like this?"

Thomas asks that anyone who cares about the security of their personal information go to the union"s dedicated website, www.lostinthecloudontario.org and learn more about the issue and what they can do about it.

"Ontarians must take a position and make politicians accountable for the decisions government makes," Thomas said. "We can only shed light on this bad policy. The people have to demand the government change it."

More information:

Warren (Smokey) Thomas 416-443-8888
Megan Park, OPSEU Communications: 416-443-8888 ext 8207