CV #25: De-Anonymizing The Anonymous Contact Tracing App

1. Other Articles On CV “Planned-emic”

The rest of the series is here. Many lies, lobbying, conflicts of interest, and various globalist agendas operating behind the scenes. The Gates Foundation finances: the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control, GAVI, ID2020, John Hopkins University, Imperial College London, the Pirbright Institute, the British Broadcasting Corporation, and individual pharmaceutical companies. Also: there is little to no science behind what our officials are doing; they promote degenerate behaviour; the Australian Department of Health admits the PCR tests don’t work; the US CDC admits testing is heavily flawed; and The International Health Regulations are legally binding. See here, here, and here.

2. Disclaimer: Limited Personal Knowledge

To start out with a disclaimer, I am hardly any sort of expert on cell phone technology. So this article is written from a more lay perspective. Nonetheless, the announcement of the contact tracing app in Canada opens up a lot of hard questions that need to be answered. Can the Government (or any government) be trusted with this claim, and is it even feasible?

This isn’t meant to be an alarmist piece, but there are very real concerns and doubts about just how confidential all of this will remain. Consider the following.

3. Research Into Re-Identification, 2019

While rich medical, behavioral, and socio-demographic data are key to modern data-driven research, their collection and use raise legitimate privacy concerns. Anonymizing datasets through de-identification and sampling before sharing them has been the main tool used to address those concerns. We here propose a generative copula-based method that can accurately estimate the likelihood of a specific person to be correctly re-identified, even in a heavily incomplete dataset. On 210 populations, our method obtains AUC scores for predicting individual uniqueness ranging from 0.84 to 0.97, with low false-discovery rate. Using our model, we find that 99.98% of Americans would be correctly re-identified in any dataset using 15 demographic attributes. Our results suggest that even heavily sampled anonymized datasets are unlikely to satisfy the modern standards for anonymization set forth by GDPR and seriously challenge the technical and legal adequacy of the de-identification release-and-forget model.

De-identification, the process of anonymizing datasets before sharing them, has been the main paradigm used in research and elsewhere to share data while preserving people’s privacy. Data protection laws worldwide consider anonymous data as not personal data anymore allowing it to be freely used, shared, and sold. Academic journals are, e.g., increasingly requiring authors to make anonymous data available to the research community. While standards for anonymous data vary, modern data protection laws, such as the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), consider that each and every person in a dataset has to be protected for the dataset to be considered anonymous. This new higher standard for anonymization is further made clear by the introduction in GDPR of pseudonymous data: data that does not contain obvious identifiers but might be re-identifiable and is therefore within the scope of the law.

This was a research paper released in 2019, before the coronavirus planned-emic hit the world stage. While to long to into depth here, the researchers found and listed many examples of people being able to re-identify people using supposedly anonymized data sets. While original data had many modifiers removed, it was possible to reverse engineer it, and re-establish people’s identities using multiple sets of incomplete data.

Two of the biggest issues in the research were health care data and internet browsing data. They were initially anonymized, but then computers were able to piece together to data and provide names. While not always correct, these techniques were overall very accurate in re-establishing identities.

Research data is widely shared for many purposes. Laws in the West allow for personal information to be shared as long as it is “anonymized” first. However, if that can be undone, then an end run around privacy laws can be accomplished.

Now, this type of bypass of privacy has been underway for a long time. People have to ask whether it will continue (or even escalate), in the face of this so-called pandemic.

4. Governor William Weld’s Medical Info


This is an old case, but a good one. Former Massachusetts Governor William Weld was able to have his medical history re-identified from anonymized medical information. How so? State voter rolls provided birth date and zip code information. Being a public figure, people knew quite a bit about him. Even with redacted records, it was possible to piece it together.

But one doesn’t have to be a politician. With the information available from various databases, a computer scientist can easily piece profiles together.

Keep in mind this was done in 1997, and led to HIPPA, new privacy regulations coming into place. However, that was over 20 years ago, and computers have advanced a long way since. Moreover, internet usage has resulted in astronomical amounts of personal information being available online.

Now for some questions about this app.

5. Will The App Really Be Anonymous?

The first thing that people should be asking is whether claims that this app will be anonymous at all. A healthy distrust of the your government is helpful in all cases. Everything they say and promise should be met with some degree of skepticism.

Bear in mind, this is the same government that thought nothing of having Statistics Canada do data mining of over 500,000 Canadians. They then threw StatsCan under the bus when there was public backlash. It was just 2 years ago, and addressed in those articles.

Beyond distrust of the government, a follow-up must be asked. Even if this were anonymous, as advertised, can it be de-anonymized at a later point? Can the app makers use some decryption to identify users? What about other third parties?

How easy will it be to use AI or to combine partial data sets to re-identify people? What happens when the profiles are “Frankenstein-ed” together? Who gets the data? How will it be used, and will we even know?

6. What Qualifies As Contact?

Is passing someone on the street or in the grocery store sufficient to count as “coming in contact” with someone? is a few seconds enough? A minute? 5 minutes? Sure there is more information coming out, but having some standard would be nice. Knowing what the standard is would also help.

7. Positive Test Linked To Phone Number?

There are plenty of issues with the coronavirus testing itself. However, that is a piece for another day. This is about the privacy aspects.

Suppose you test positive for this virus. What happens then? Do you change the settings on your phone, or does the medical staff then insert your phone number or “random number” into a database of people who have tested positive? Is that result then connected to anything and anyplace you go, or that your phone is reported to have a connection to?

8. Lies About Phone Not Geo-Tagging?

There are claims that there will be no geo-tagging, or storing of locations. How exactly does that work though? How can a phone app determine that a user has been close to someone who has tested positive? It’s difficult to believe that phones would just start collecting the random assigned numbers of everyone it has been close to (though possible I guess), but not record any sort of geographical data?

Any sort of mainstream technology that has GPS tracking can find places, people or things, but does so with reference to spots on a map. How could this contact tracing app determine when phones are close to each other, but not have any geographical reference?

It seems possible that this government app could use geographical references, but then not store the data. However, considering outfits like Google are well ahead in tracking movements, it seems strange to develop this app to not record location data.

9. StatsCan Provides Microdata For Free

Unrestricted access to microdata
Statistics Canada offers Public Use Microdata Files (PUMFs) to institutions and individuals. They are non-aggregated data which are carefully modified and then reviewed to ensure that no individual or business is directly or indirectly identified. These can be accessed directly through the Data Liberation Initiative (DLI) or the PUMF Collection for a subscription fee. Individual files can also be requested at no cost.

For reference, a files can be ordered for free. A purchase of $5,000 per year, which gives unlimited access to all of the microdata used by StatCan in its various research and publications. The data is supposed to be anonymized, but one has to ask how easy it would be to piece together individual or businesses, based on this information, plus other available sources.

StatsCan already has plenty of CV-19 research released and available for the public. It isn’t too much of a stretch to think that searching for where people cluster, or amount of time spent in an area is researched.

10. StatsCan’s “Approved Microdata Linkages”

What does Statistics Canada do with your personal information?
We use it to its full potential
Whether Statistics Canada received your information directly from you or through a third party such as another government entity, we use it to its full potential. We avoid having to ask the same question more than once so that we can produce relevant, timely and accurate statistics. Linking Canadians’ information from different files enables Statistics Canada to produce more statistics and research, which are in turn used by decision makers. We will only link personal information when its value to the public good outweighs the intrusion of privacy. For example, we can take the answers you gave on a survey and link them to your tax record. The objective is to draw conclusions based on a large sample of the population. More information on all Approved microdata linkages.

StatsCan openly admits that it will combine data from various sources and combine it. So this “anonymizing” is only done AFTER various things are combined, if it even done at all.

Approved microdata linkages
The linking of separate records from different sources can be a very useful and cost-efficient technique in the design, production, analysis and evaluation of statistical data. It can lead to important savings in cost, time, and respondent burden, and, in some cases, it may be the only feasible way to obtain important statistical information. When possible, rather than conducting additional surveys, Statistics Canada uses the information that individuals, businesses and institutions have already provided to the Agency or to other government departments for methodological purposes, data enhancement and subject-matter studies. The following is a list of the microdata linkage submissions that have been reviewed and approved in accordance with the Statistics Canada Directive on Microdata Linkage, starting in January 2000. Choose any of the following titles to view a summary:

To be clear, Statistics Canada already has the system of combining various datasets (including information provided by other government agencies, schools, businesses and institutions. In fact, it has gone this for a good 20 years now. Presumably the anonymising is done AFTER this is compiled.

Looking at the approved microdata linking from 2019 (the most recent year), we get:

  • Evaluating the Information Content in the Business Outlook Survey (002-2019)
  • Evaluating the Information Content in the Business Outlook Survey (002-2019)
  • The impact of Intellectual Property on the Canadian Economy (003-2019)
  • The impact of Intellectual Property on the Canadian Economy (003-2019)
  • LASS 2016 to Census 2016, Census 2011 and NHS 2011 Linkage (004-2019)
  • LASS 2016 to Census 2016, Census 2011 and NHS 2011 Linkage (004-2019)
  • Linkage of the National Dose Registry to cancer and mortality outcomes, an update (005-2019)
  • Linkage of the National Dose Registry to cancer and mortality outcomes, an update (005-2019)
  • Municipal Wastewater Systems in Canada (MWSC): Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) Effluent Regulatory Reporting Information System (ERRIS) linkage to Census Data (006-2019)
  • Municipal Wastewater Systems in Canada (MWSC): Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) Effluent Regulatory Reporting Information System (ERRIS) linkage to Census Data (006-2019)
  • Adding Gender to the Corporations Returns Act (CRA) database (007-2019)
  • Adding Gender to the Corporations Returns Act (CRA) database (007-2019)
  • Between and within-firm earnings inequality in Canada (008-2019)
  • Between and within-firm earnings inequality in Canada (008-2019)
  • Indian Register linked to tax data, (Longitudinal Indian Register Database (LIRD)) (009-2019)
  • Indian Register linked to tax data, (Longitudinal Indian Register Database (LIRD)) (009-2019)
  • 2016 Census of Population linkage to income tax files and benefits records to monitor tax filing behaviour and take-up rate of various benefit programs (011-2019)
  • 2016 Census of Population linkage to income tax files and benefits records to monitor tax filing behaviour and take-up rate of various benefit programs (011-2019)
  • Linkage of the 2002 Canadian Community Health Survey – Mental Health and Well-being – Canadian Forces (CCHS-CF) to the 2018 Canadian Armed Forces Members and Veterans Mental Health Follow-up Survey (CAFVMHS) (021-2019)
  • Linkage of the 2002 Canadian Community Health Survey – Mental Health and Well-being – Canadian Forces (CCHS-CF) to the 2018 Canadian Armed Forces Members and Veterans Mental Health Follow-up Survey (CAFVMHS) (021-2019)
  • Socioeconomic and Ethnocultural Disparities in Perinatal Health in Canada: Current Pattern and Changes Over Time (023-2019)
  • Socioeconomic and Ethnocultural Disparities in Perinatal Health in Canada: Current Pattern and Changes Over Time (023-2019)
  • Linkage of the Canadian Housing Survey to historical income information, information on social and affordable housing, measures on proximity to services and measures on income dispersion in communities (024-2019)
  • Linkage of the Canadian Housing Survey to historical income information, information on social and affordable housing, measures on proximity to services and measures on income dispersion in communities (024-2019)
  • Linkage of Labour Force Survey with Longitudinal Workers File (025-2019)
  • Linkage of Labour Force Survey with Longitudinal Workers File (025-2019)
  • The Economic and Environmental Impacts of Voluntary Energy Conservation Programs: Evidence from the Canadian Industry Program for Energy Conservation (026-2019)
  • The Economic and Environmental Impacts of Voluntary Energy Conservation Programs: Evidence from the Canadian Industry Program for Energy Conservation (026-2019)

Since Statistics Canada already incorporates health information and combines various sets of data to make “more complete profiles”, it is clearly possible to add CV tests — both positive and negative as well. While calling for it publicly is political poison, who’s to say it won’t be quietly slipped in at some point?

Remember as well, these profiles are combined, and only then anonymized. However, the more information in the profile, the easier it would be for researchers to reverse engineer the anonymizing techniques to restore identities. In fact, it’s quite possible that the algorithm and techniques will be readily available.

Remember, StatsCan allows people to order individual files for free. It you want a full 1-year subscription, it costs a mere $5,000. If you are interested in real data mining, it’s pocket change.

11. Shopify & Blackberry Develop App

Canada will launch a nationwide contact tracing app using the Apple-Google Exposure Notification framework, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday.

The Apple-Google Exposure Notification API exited beta in May. It allows public health authorities to build deeply integrated, cross-platform contact tracing apps to track and curb the spread of coronavirus.

The Canadian app was developed by Shopify, BlackBerry and the government of Ontario. As is required by Apple and Google, the app will be completely voluntary, will only store data in a decentralized manner and will be led by the Canadian Digital Service Initiative, iPhoneInCanada reported.

Blackberry and Shopify developed the app for use in Canada. Companies like Google are well known for obtaining huge amounts of data on their users so this is a huge red flag. How do we know there isn’t some sort of back door built into the platform?

By contrast, a few countries, like Norway, have banned such an app, out of privacy concerns.

12. Government Already Compiles The Info

As seen in earlier sections, StatsCan already combines sources to build “more complete” profiles of the people it wants to survey. Even your credit isn’t safe if StatsCan wants it. As for the finished project, the information can be bought, and individual files requested for free. How difficult would it be to take the raw data provided, and cross reference across other social media or other databases? How long until the original names are restored to the profiles?

With all this data compilation, it won’t be difficult to link a positive test to a real name, an address, or a date of birth. The suggestion that all of this will remain completely anonymous flies in the face of what the government and StatsCan do.

It also isn’t much of a stretch to see the “anonymized” results sold or given to third parties to conduct their own research. Stay away from the app would be some good advice. It would be nice to just take at face value the claims that there are no privacy issues. However, that’s very naïve.

Again, this is not meant to send people into a panic, but much more has to be known and discussed to make such an app a real solution, if it is at all.

TSCE #10(E): DNA Testing For Spotting Fake Refugee Families

1. Trafficking, Smuggling, Child Exploitation

Serious issues like smuggling or trafficking are routinely avoided in public discourse. Also important are the links: between open borders and human smuggling; between ideology and exploitation; between tolerance and exploitation; between abortion and organ trafficking; or between censorship and complicity. Mainstream media will also never get into the organizations who are pushing these agendas, nor the complicit politicians. These topics don’t exist in isolation, and are interconnected.

2. Important Links

CLICK HERE, for CBC article on DNA testing for refugees.
CLICK HERE, for IRCC on DNA testing for families.
CLICK HERE, for fraud in U.S. Refugee Reunification Program.
CLICK HERE, for National Sentinel on refugee fraud, 30%.
CLICK HERE, for WA Examiner: 30% refugee families are fake.
CLICK HERE, for Epoch Times article on fake families.
CLICK HERE, for ACLU lawsuit on family separation.
CLICK HERE, for ACLU wants DNA testing as last resort.

3. Context For This Article

Regardless of what a person feels about letting high levels of refugees into their country, most people will agree on one fact: they want the “family units” who enter to actually be made up of related family members.

However, as is being seen more and more, particularly in the United States, this is not the case. Adults are coming with children they claim are “their” children, but DNA testing is proving that false. In a U.S. pilot program, nearly 1/3 of professed families were not blood relatives.

Obvious questions have to be asked. Who are these children? Who are the supposed parents? Are the children being used to simply help adults along, or are they being trafficked? How are these arrangements being set up, and where? Those are just a few that need to be answered.

Bizarrely though, migrant rights groups and civil liberties groups don’t seem so concerned about those questions. Instead, they focus on what will happen to the DNA sample afterwards.

4. UN High Commission On Testing

IV. DNA testing to establish family relationships in the refugee context
12. …. Thus, interviewing family members should normally be undertaken as the primary means of establishing family relationships. Where documents are available, they should be used as corroborative evidence. Care should however be taken to prevent that, because of pressure to produce such documents, refugees are driven to take risky actions. These may include, for instance, desperate measures to sneak back home and/or approach the authorities of the country of origin, which could place them at risk of arrest, detention or other inordinate consequences.

13. In line with the above, UNHCR considers that DNA testing to verify family relationships may be resorted to only where serious doubts remain after all other types of proof have been examined, or, where there are strong indications of fraudulent intent and DNA testing is considered as the only reliable recourse to prove or disprove fraud.

14. Even if the existence of a blood link is not established, this may not necessarily imply an intention to commit fraud. Cultural and social dimensions of ascribing family relationships should be considered. In the refugee context, the nature of ascribing family relationships should be understood based on the refugee’s social and cultural background. UNHCR also believes that individuals will be less inclined to misrepresent non-existing blood ties if they are confident that persons whom they have always treated and considered as part of the family and with whom they have developed strong personal bonds, or where there is mutual dependency, will be considered as part of the family for purposes of family reunification.

While it does pay lip service to the idea that nations need to be secure in who they allow to enter their borders, it becomes clear that the UN High Commission on Refugees sees DNA testing as a last resort. Even in cases where there is no biological link, the UNHCR recommends “looking at the culture” of the people anyway.

5. Canadian Policy On Testing

When to do DNA testing
An applicant may be given the option of undergoing DNA testing in cases in which documentary evidence has been examined and there are still doubts about the authenticity of a parent-child genetic relationship or when it is not possible to obtain satisfactory relationship documents. A DNA test to prove a genetic relationship should be suggested by IRCC only as a last resort.

For citizenship purposes, it is only necessary to establish one parent-child relationship with a Canadian citizen parent. However, it is preferable to take samples of genetic material from both parents as it facilitates the testing process.

A relative or family member’s DNA can be useful to DNA test results for immigration purposes, even if that person is not specifically involved with the sponsorship application. In such cases, the processing office needs to be satisfied that the person is a blood relative of the sponsor and that the person’s DNA sample is collected in accordance with these guidelines.

The IRCC does require DNA testing to prove a genetic relationship, but does so only as a last resort, when family ties cannot be proven otherwise. While this may not be a huge problem for people coming in many streams, it should be required for those coming via refugee channels, especially those coming illegally.

6. CBSA Checking Ancestry Sites

Immigration officials are using DNA testing and ancestry websites to try to establish the nationality of migrants, the Canada Border Services Agency said on Friday.

CBSA spokesperson Jayden Robertson said the agency uses DNA testing to determine identity of “longer-term detainees” when other techniques have been exhausted.

“DNA testing assists the CBSA in determining identity by providing indicators of nationality thereby enabling us to focus further lines of investigation on particular countries,” Robertson said in an email.

But the process raises concerns about privacy of data held by ancestry websites, and highlights political pressure over the handling of migrants by Canada’s Liberal government. More than 30,000 would-be refugees have crossed the U.S.-Canada border since January 2017, many saying they were fleeing U.S. President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

Again, the DNA testing appears to be a last resort to verify identity, rather than a main one. Moreover, it’s sickening how people living in the U.S. illegally are able to enter Canada and try to claim asylum. The rules aren’t meant to allow for asylum shopping.

7. Fraud Longstanding Problem In U.S.

Q: Why did the US decide to conduct DNA testing of some nationality groups applying for resettlement in the US?
A: PRM and DHS/USCIS jointly decided to test a sample of refugee cases due to reported fraud in the P-3 program, particularly in Kenya. This pilot program later expanded to test applicants in other parts of Africa. (See questions and answers below.)
Q: What rate of fraud did you discover?
A: The rate of fraud varied among nationalities and from country to country, and is difficult to establish definitively as many individuals refused to agree to DNA testing.
We were, however, only able to confirm all claimed biological relationships in fewer than 20% of cases (family units). In the remaining cases, at least one negative result (fraudulent relationship) was identified, or the individuals refused to be tested.
Q: Which refugees are being tested? From which countries?
A: We initially tested a sample of some 500 refugees (primarily Somali and Ethiopian) in Nairobi, Kenya under consideration for U.S. resettlement through the P-3 program. After that sample suggested high rates of fraud, we expanded testing to Ethiopia, Uganda, Ghana, Guinea, Gambia and Cote d’Ivoire. Most of the approximately 3,000 refugees tested are from Somalia, Ethiopia, and Liberia, as these nationalities make up the vast majority of P-3 cases.
It is important to note that the initial DNA testing was limited to members of families applying for the P-3 program, and not between the applicants and the anchor relative in the United States.

Even in late 2008, the U.S. State Department was reporting that on DNA testing for refugee families had interesting results. Less than 20% of cases were confirmed to be actual families. Others failed testing, or simply refused to undergo it.

Also in that same page, the State Department stated that they stopped accepting affidavits of relationship for people coming from all countries. It stopped accepting the documents and has looked for other ways to verify identity and relationships.

8. How Prevalent Is It?

Relevant part starts at about 8:00 mark in video. Conversation gets to child separation, and that entire families end up getting released. In pilot program, 30% of “families” were made up of unrelated people. Children are in fact being recycled and used to help multiple families.

The National Sentinel reported that U.S. border guards are finding a very high number of so-called families entering the U.S. illegally from Mexico, who aren’t related at all. From the Washington Examiner:

In a pilot program, approximately 30% of rapid DNA tests of immigrant adults who were suspected of arriving at the southern border with children who weren’t theirs revealed the adults were not related to the children, an official involved in the system’s temporary rollout who asked to be anonymous in order to speak freely told the Washington Examiner Friday.

“There’s been some concern about, ‘Are they stepfathers or adopted fathers?'” the official said. “Those were not the case. In these cases, they are misrepresented as family members.”

In some incidents where Immigration and Customs Enforcement told the adults they would have to take a cheek swab to verify a relationship with a minor, several admitted the child was not related and did not take the DNA test, which was designed by a U.S. company.

Nearly a third of the families coming into the U.S. as refugees aren’t in fact related. Okay, who are they really? What exactly are the children being used for? Smuggling aids for adults? Are they being recycled? Are they being trafficked? Has any money changed hands to make these arrangements happen?

9. Civil Liberties Groups Oppose Testing

The ACLU filed a federal lawsuit earlier this year to stop family separation and to require the immediate reunion of all separated children and parents. On June 29, a federal judge issued a national injunction in our class-action lawsuit, requiring the reunification of thousands. Now, we must ensure the administration heeds the court’s ruling and the policy of family separation ends once and for all. The government deported hundreds of parents without their children — without a plan for how they would be ever be found. The ACLU is working to locate every separated parent and advise them of their rights to be reunited.

We are in the courts, streets, and in Congress to hold the Trump administration accountable for the irreparable damage it has done to these young lives. We need you in this fight.

One has to wonder why, if the U.S. was such a horrible place, would people come by the tens of thousands to go there? Why would people travel for thousands of miles just to end up on concentration camps?

The tortured logic is also on display here. The ACLU wants DNA testing to be done only as a last resort, and took the Government to court on that issue. However, they also oppose separating children from parents (or at least people who “claim” to be families).

In short, the ACLU wants children and adults to remain together, and be promptly released into the United States. Yet, they oppose the one measure which would determine if they are in fact related by blood.

The ACLU is far from the only organization that opposes DNA testing, while trying to get “families” released into the mainland. It would seem logical to at least ensure that the children are with family members, but that doesn’t seem to be a concern. The priority with opposing DNA testing seems to be to keep it out of criminal databases.

Who knows how many of these children are being trafficked by their so-called parents? What about the human rights and civil liberties of the children involved? However, groups like the ACLU don’t address that.

Privacy Commissioner, Banks, Throw StatsCan Under the Bus

(The issue of bank data being seized is raised in Parliament)

This article was released by Global News on October 26, 2018, and CanuckLaw covered it here on October 28. In short, Statistics Canada wants to seize the banking information of 500,000 Canadians (each year), and do it without the knowledge or consent of Canadians.

(at 1:40 in the video) Statistics Canada representative James Tabreke in a very blunt way claims that this is a ”new way of getting economic data to make government decisions”. He also claims that StatsCan is being open with the public, and that the Canadian Banks were aware of this.

(at 2:32 in the video) Claim that the Privacy Commissioner has okayed the project.

Prime Minister Trudeau, in his typically partisan manner, defended the data seizure. Of course blamed Stephen Harper for eliminating the long form census in 2010. He claimed StatsCan was working closely with the Privacy Commissioner.

Now the lies get exposed:
First, Trudeau is distorting the truth with reference to Harper gutting the long-form census. In the original video, Statistics Canada claimed bank seizure was a move done to replace the long form census. So Harper cancelling the LFC in 2010 was actually irrelevant, as StatsCan was going to pull this stunt anyway.

Second, StatsCan claims that they have been open with what they are doing. Yet, these talks have been going on for a year now without the public’s knowledge.

Third, the C.B.A. (Canadian Bankers Association) has publicly objected, claiming they thought StatsCan was just in an exploratory stage. C.B.A. says they didn’t know StatsCan was going ahead with this, and says they will oppose the measure. Here is their statement:

Statement from the Canadian Bankers Association

Protecting the information privacy of their valued customers is a top priority for banks in Canada. Banks believed this proposed data acquisition project was still in the exploratory stages and were not aware that Statistics Canada was moving to compel disclosure of this information. No customer transaction data or other personal information has been transferred to Statistics Canada under this request. The CBA is working with members to understand the nature of this request and next steps.

Fourth, the Privacy Commissioner, seen here appearing before the Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, refutes the claim that he ”okayed the move”. Instead, he stated that he does not have the authority to approve such a thing, and is only able to provide general advice on privacy laws.

Fifth, the Privacy Commissioner claims he was unaware until very recently that Statistics Canada that they wanted to do this to 500,000 Canadians. He says numbers were not discussed. In the hearing he states, ”Proportionality is very important.”

Sixth, the Privacy Commissioner states he was unaware or just how much information would be seized by such a move.

Seventh, the Privacy Commissioner admits that StatsCan was not nearly as transparent as it could have been.

Eighth, and this is a glaring omission: StatsCan doesn’t say how this massive intrusion would actually help. There are just vague references to ”economic information”.

Certainly, that 15 years of credit card data had recently been seized also doesn’t sit well with many Canadians.

Now that formal complaints against this measure have been filed with the Privacy Commissioner, there is no longer the option of just giving general legal information. At this point, an investigation is mandated by law.

The proposal appears to be dead in the water, as public outrage and the threats of legal action are forcing StatsCan to back off. But it will be interesting to see if the Federal Liberals continue to support this Orwellian measure.

Statistics Canada, Equifax, Transunion, the C.B.A., and the major banks have all been contacted by CanuckLaw for comment. Any responses will be posted here as updates.

Canadian Banker’s Association rep Aaron Boles
Thanks, Alex.

The most important take-away from yesterday is that StatsCan is suspending any movement on its proposed project until the Office of the Privacy Commissioner has completed its report, which we understand will be January at the earliest. We were firm in our appearance before the Senate Committee that all options are on the table in terms of defending the privacy and security of bank customers’ personal information and transaction records. Until the OPC report is tabled and StatsCan responds about what it proposes to do thereafter, there’s little point in speculating on how information on spending habits would be collected, if at all.



From RBC
Hi Alex – please refer to the CBA for comment on this.


AJ Goodman I Director, External Communications, Personal & Commercial Banking I

From TD Canada
Hi Alex,

We refer your inquiry to the CBA, however can tell you that TD takes the trust our customers place in us extremely seriously and has not agreed to share customer data.



From Statistics Canada

“I can assure you that we will not proceed with this project until we have addressed the privacy concerns expressed by Canadians by working cooperatively with the Privacy Commissioner and with financial institutions.”

Anil Arora, Chief Statistician of Canada (Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, November 8, 2018)

Thank you,

Laurence Beaudoin-Corriveau

Manager (Acting), Media Relations, Communications
Statistics Canada, Government of Canada / Tel: 613-951-2599

From Equifax
Hello Alex.

In our database, Equifax Canada has information on ~27M Canadian consumers, which we maintain as a registered Canadian credit bureau in accordance with applicable credit reporting and privacy laws. Statistics Canada has never directed Equifax Canada to provide them with, and subsequently, Equifax Canada has not provided to Statistics Canada all of its data pursuant to its enabling legislation.

In any instance where a regulated body relying on legislative authority requests information from Equifax, our standard process is to conduct a review against our internal data governance and security processes, as well as to consider applicable law prior to disclosure.

We don’t have any information on the rumour you mentioned about credit data from 15 years ago.

Media Relations | Equifax Canada Co.

5700 Yonge St., Suite 1700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M2M 4K2

Statistics Canada Wants Banks to Hand Over Customer Data

(An Orwellian scheme is being devised here)

If true, this story is disturbing. Statistics Canada wants to collect the banking data from 500,000 Canadians each year.

Statistics Canada claims it wants: “to start collecting, on a limited basis, financial transactions data from banks, as well as other organizations that may process financial transactions data.

Section 13 of the Statistics Act reads as follows:

Access to records
13 A person having the custody or charge of any documents or records that are maintained in any department or in any municipal office, corporation, business or organization, from which information sought in respect of the objects of this Act can be obtained or that would aid in the completion or correction of that information, shall grant access thereto for those purposes to a person authorized by the Chief Statistician to obtain that information or aid in the completion or correction of that information.
R.S., 1985, c. S-19, s. 13;

So, “anyone” with “any” records of “any” sort MUST disclose them if Statistics Canada believes the information can be used for statistical purposes. That is what the law says.

Furthermore, the Canadian Privacy Act is really no help here. It claims data collection is okay, as long as it relates to its purpose.

Collection, Retention and Disposal of Personal Information
Marginal note:
Collection of personal information
4 No personal information shall be collected by a government institution unless it relates directly to an operating program or activity of the institution.

While this seems — at least on paper — to be legal, one could easily argue that neither the Statistics Act nor the Privacy Act were ever designed for this

The transaction data would include:
(a) Description of the transaction
(b) Date and Time
(c) Location
(d) Value of the transactions

The transactions would be linked to a customer by way of:
(I) Name
(II) Social Insurance Number
(III) Date of Birth
(IV) Gender
(V) Address

Spokesman James Tabreke claims that obtaining all the personal identifiers is necessary in order to “gain a snapshot” of certain types of customers. He says that StatsCan is not interested in anyone in particular, but just using the information to observe trends.

Even if this were true, the idea of banks handing over such information “without the customers’ knowledge or consent” is quite chilling indeed.

The math provided by the Global article is confusing.

First, supposedly, 500,000 people’s data is to be taken. It states the odds of being chosen are 1 in 20. That would only be true if there were 10 million people in Canada. There are 36-37 million at this point. Teenagers and adolescents frequently have bank accounts too. So, where does the 1 in 20 chance come from?

Second, if this were being done for statistical purposes, why would 500,000 people need to be selected? Political polling, for example, uses samples between 500 and 2000. A sample of perhaps 10,000 would obtain results accurate to within 1% error.

Third, an omission here: if there were to be 500,000 Canadians each year, would StatsCan be using the data of the same people, and contrasting their behavioural changes, or would it be 500,000 more Canadians?

For media inquiries of the Canadian Banker’s Association:
Aaron Boles
Tel: (416) 362-6093 ext. 350
Cell: (647) 274-8495

For media inquiries from Statistics Canada:
Media Relations — Media Hotline
613-951-INFO (951-4636)
8:30am to 5:00pm Eastern Time, Monday to Friday, excluding holidays.

At the time of writing, messages have been left with both institutions.

Tabreke claims that this method of forcing banks to hand over personal data will improve on, and eventually replace the surveys that have traditionally been mailed out. While the honesty is refreshing, it is downright creepy how calm and straightforward he is.

Of course, it leaves out the obvious question — why not get the stores to report their consumer trends? Not customer information, but sales trends. Why go for this invasive tactic?

Yes, that is indeed what he says. Forget voluntary disclosure. We will rummage through your financial life and take the information for ourselves. This is wrong on many levels.

Going cash only or using crypto-currency seem like appealing options at this point.

Followup to the Story

Aaron Boles did return the call quite shortly after this article was published. He stated that the C.B.A. has and will continue to refuse the demand. Although the C.B.A. and banks ”do” comply with most requests from Statistics Canada, this was just too far. Boles stated quite bluntly that banks need to have the trust of their customers, and this would erode it.

The C.B.A. claims that no data sharing proposed here has so far actually taken place. Here is the statement they released to Global Media:

Statement from the Canadian Bankers Association

Protecting the information privacy of their valued customers is a top priority for banks in Canada. Banks believed this proposed data acquisition project was still in the exploratory stages and were not aware that Statistics Canada was moving to compel disclosure of this information. No customer transaction data or other personal information has been transferred to Statistics Canada under this request. The CBA is working with members to understand the nature of this request and next steps.

Further Followup (October 29)
The Liberal government has announced in Parliament that it is okay with the push by Statistics Canada, and claims it is necessary in order to advance government policy. See this video.

Using Genealogy and DNA to Catch Golden State Killer

James Joseph DeAngelo, the so-called “Golden State Killer”, has been caught using a very controversial method: genealogical DNA testing. See here, and here. DeAngelo is accused of committing rapes and murders over many years.

The short explanation of the method is this: When a person submits a DNA sample to a genealogical organization (and pays the fee), it is done with the intention of learning more about their biological relatives. Even previously known and distant relatives can be found. 2nd, 3rd, and even 4th cousins can now be identified using this technique.

Quite understandably, people submitting DNA to ancestory organizations do so in order to see who they might be related to. Certainly, no one does so with the intention of providing evidence or at least a lead against other distant relatives. This was never meant to be a police tool.

(4th Amendment)
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

But here, it gets a bit more complicated. Even if one argues that using DNA set aside for genealogical testing violates that person’s 4th Amendment rights, it is that person’s rights being violated, not the actual target’s rights.

Understandably, many are upset over a clear breach of their agreement.

While DeAngelo certainly deserves to be caught and tried, the method of DNA identification sends chills to many. It will be interesting to see what, if any policies and laws come as a result of this. There will likely be a followup article