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CANADA PLEDGES TO DELETE "BIG BROTHER" FILES

Source: Reuters

Posted on May 30, 2000

      The Canadian government, responding to a public outcry that it was acting like Big Brother, said Monday it was dismantling a vast database containing up to 2,000 pieces of information on each citizen. Human Resources Minister Jane Stewart announced the about-face after being hammered by members of Parliament, Privacy Commissioner Bruce Phillips, private citizens and the media.

      "Given public concerns about privacy issues in this era of advanced and constantly changing technology, I have chosen an approach that addresses future threats to privacy," Stewart said in a statement.

      Phillips raised his concerns two weeks ago in an annual report that said Stewart's department had quietly received from other departments existing files detailing Canadians' tax, health and other records and combined them with its own jobs and welfare data.

      Stewart said her staff had now returned information to the federal tax authorities, had eliminated the computer program that linked the various databases and would ensure that all databases remain separate files.




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