StatsCan's plan to harvest private banking info on hold, pending investigation

The country's chief statistician says his agency's controversial plan to harvest individuals' banking information is on hold until the privacy commissioner completes an investigation into widespread concerns about the project.

Privacy commissioner is investigating after concerns were raised about controversial plan

Anil Arora, Chief Statistician of Canada, appears as a witness at a Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce regarding the agency's request that major financial institutions provide 500,000 Canadians' detailed banking information in Ottawa Thursday. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

The country's chief statistician says his agency's controversial plan to harvest individuals' banking information is on hold until the privacy commissioner completes an investigation into widespread concerns about the project.

Statistics Canada recently caught nine financial institutions off-guard by asking them to share the private banking information of Canadians in 500,000 dwellings across the country.

Canadian law could require the institutions to hand over the private information to Statistics Canada as the agency works to modernize and improve its data-collection efforts.

Privacy concerns have triggered heated political exchanges in the House of Commons, where allegations of state surveillance and authoritarian rule have been part of the debate.

The ensuing controversy and public complaints have also prompted privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien to launch an investigation into the matter.

In testimony today before a Senate committee, chief statistician Anil Arora said the project will not proceed until Therrien has finished his work and Canadians' privacy concerns have been addressed.

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