Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


British Columbia, More than 65,000 SINs, Dismal Process

The provincial government has auctioned off computer tapes containing thousands of highly sensitive records, including information about people’s medical conditions, their social insurance numbers and their dates of birth.

Sold for $300 along with various other pieces of equipment, the 41 high-capacity data tapes were auctioned in mid-2005 at a site in Surrey that routinely sells government surplus items to the public.

Included among the files were records showing certain people’s medical status — including whether they have a mental illness, HIV or a substance-abuse problem — details of applications for social assistance, and whether or not people are fit to work.

Way to go guys! You made $7.50 a tape!

(From “Health Records Sold at Public Auction,” Vancouver Sun, via KH.)

One comment on "British Columbia, More than 65,000 SINs, Dismal Process"

  • David Brodbeck says:

    Apparently they’ve never heard of a degausser?
    I used to work at a bank, and we degaussed all 3.5″ floppies before throwing them away. 5.25″ floppies were put through the paper shredder. Hard disks were smashed with a hammer. (There are somewhat less destructive solutions available now, of course:
    Degaussers powerful enough to put data on computer tapes beyond casual recovery are readily available, because they’re also used in TV production. Degaussing videotape before re-recording on it is standard procedure at most TV studios, because it results in a better picture than letting the VCR do the erasing.

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