Outgoing Canadian commissioner accepts breaches will happen

Elaine Keenan Bengts, information and privacy commissioner in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories (NWT), Canada, says privacy breaches will remain a constant.

“They’re going to continue to happen because human error is usually the nexus of most privacy breaches. You’re never going to fix human error 100%,” she was quoted as saying by the country’s broadcaster CBC.

In comments before her planned retirement in October after 23 years in the job, she said her aim has been to ensure breaches happen less often by making suggestions to improve government policies and educating government employees on how to prevent beaches from happening in the first place.

When she started in 1997, initially as commissioner for Northwest Territories (Nunavut was added to her role in 2000), universities were the main users of the internet and email was not a common method of communication. “We live today in a completely, entirely different world,” she commented.

As for the current Covid-19 pandemic, Keenan Bengts said that presents the government with new challenges around privacy and access to information as employees are accessing government files while working from home.

Though the NWT government is proactively disclosing some information, which is fine, it is not doing a great job on privacy impact assessments on all of the new programmes being rolled out and the new technologies being used, she added.

Also, she is concerned fewer employees are working in information and privacy.


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