Ottawa Loses Personal Data Of Alberta Casino Gamblers

The government of Canada has been responsible for notable cyber security breaches over the last few months, and this week another breach was brought to daylight.  A federal agency lost a laptop, a USB data drive, and several documented reports on October 18 last year that sources admit contain personal information of gamblers who regularly bet in two Alberta casinos.  Critics say this breach exposes detailed financial transactions to organized crime or terrorists.

The department responsible for the breach is the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), and reports to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.  The agency says as soon as they were made aware of the data breach, the employee responsible was dealt with appropriately.  The employee, whose name has not been revealed, first reported the missing data to a Calgary police station, after which the federal department took the issue to the privacy commissioner.  However, the Canadian public has only found out about the breach this week.

The laptop and data drive were stored inside the trunk of a car in a parking lot, while the FINTRAC employee was out to lunch.  The lost information contained detailed accounts of how the casinos report the flow of money in and out of their gaming centres to FINTRAC.  FINTRAC spokesperson Darren Gibb says between the laptop and the data drive, records on nearly 800 Canadians who have placed bets in Alberta casinos are exposed to criminal organizations – including their names, addresses, and places of employment. 

It also includes data such as the amounts patrons may have spent or received while at the casinos.”

This announcement comes as Ottawa is maintaining damage control on another data breach that exposed personal information on nearly 600,000 former students.  NDP Privacy Critic Charlie Angus says the government has twice now admitted to hiding the truth from Canadians.

“It’s like this government really doesn’t get it.  They don’t get the importance of protecting data.  This is major data that could be used by organized crime and the government was trying to hide this from Canadians.”

The privacy commissioner says the RCMP will likely be called in to investigate this latest data breach, while cyber security will be reinforced in Alberta casinos, especially those in Calgary. 

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