Information commissioner, AG slam McNeil government over privacy ‘breach’

Nova Scotia’s information and privacy watchdog Catherine Tully has called the McNeil government to task for “a serious failure of due diligence” and Auditor General Michael Pickup said the provincial government failed to adequately assess and manage the “vulnerabilities” of an online portal for access-to-information requests.

The criticism comes after a nine-month investigation by both legislature bodies into an unauthorized breach of a relatively new online access-to-information request and disclosure system.

More than 7,000 pages of unsecured documents were downloaded on March 3, 2018, but the “breach” wasn’t detected until a month later, when a government worker inadvertently discovered the weakness in the system and alerted his boss. 

Police traced the download back to a Halifax-area family home, raiding the residence and arresting a 19-year-old man. They threatened to charge him with a seldom-used offence — “unauthorized use of a computer.” That charge carried a possible 10-year prison sentence. 

Three weeks later, investigators announced they would not be charging the man because he “did not have intent to commit a criminal offence.”

More to come.

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