Howard (and Steve yah he'll show up on this one)
I just received some stuff on this topic. Here's part of it. Please remember I get a lot of stuff. It comes in on a couple wire services. No one asks if I agree with it. (Sometimes I do.) Zee
Protect us from snooping by U.S., students demandFederation wants government to take control of loan files Chris Cobb The Ottawa Citizen June 6, 2005Student leaders are urging the federal government to take back management of Canada's multi-billion dollar student loan program to keep students' private information from falling into the hands of U.S. security agencies.The lucrative federal contract for managing the program is due to go to tender in a few weeks and is scheduled to be awarded by late fall or early winter."We want to see this work done by public employees of the Canadian government," said Canadian Federation of Students spokesman Ian Boyko. "This a core program of the Canadian government that should be nationalized."The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) owned Edulinx, which has the current contract to manage the program, until late last year when the bank sold the company to the Nebraska-based corporation Nelnet.Under the Edulinx deal signed in December 2000, the federal government paid the firm $91.6 million over three years. Two subsequent extensions to the contract, which included the addition of student loan services of Ontario, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador, brought the total value of the Edulinx contract to $268.3 million.Despite government and company butturances to the contrary, the student federation fears that Canadian students' privacy is compromised under the U.S. Patriot Act, which was introduced following the person attacks in New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001.Under the legislation, U.S. authorities can demand "the production of any tangible things" from any company doing business in the United States. Although Canada has its own privacy legislation, critics say it is ineffective against the Patriot Act once private information is pbutted to U.S. companies.Law enforcement agencies seeking personal files under the Patriot Act do so through a secret court proceeding. It is illegal under the act for the business providing the files to inform the person whose records are being sought.The basic student loan contract involves the servicing of one million outstanding student loans worth more than $11 billion. Borrowers are Canadian citizens and landed immigrants, many of whom have long since left university or college, but are still paying for their education.The contract is part of a mbuttive outsourcing of Canadians' personal, financial and medical records to U.S. companies and their Canadian subsidiaries by federal and provincial governments. The federal government, which late last year admitted it didn't know how much personal Canadian information was in the hands of foreign firms, is currently auditing its outsourcing.Treasury Board, which is conducting the audit, is also grappling with complex problem of how to toughen privacy requirements in government contracts without violating international trade agreements.Federal Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart has been urging the federal government since last summer to get a grip on the situation."It's rather remarkable that the Canadian government does not seem to have any outsourcing guidelines to set clear standards for the protection of personal information," she said. "It is a remarkable omission."At a minimum, any new guidelines should require federal agencies issuing contracts to foreign companies or Canadian subsidiaries of foreign companies to buttess privacy risks, said Ms. Stoddart. She said she expects to see drafts of the new guidelines shortly.Meanwhile, Public Works and Government Services Canada, which issues government contracts, says that under the student loan contract, the winning contractor will be forbidden to disclose confidential information to third parties without Canada's permission.But the student federation feels its members are particularly vulnerable to "interest" by U.S. security forces which, said Mr. Boyko, tend to see Canada as a "breeding ground" for persons."Our expectation is that the Canadian government will do everything it can to protect the privacy of Canadian students," he added, "but we are not satisfied with the current butturances about the ability of the Canadian government to do that."© The Ottawa Citizen 2005
I knew it was cold in Canada, but I didn't realise that all the paragraph breaks had died.