The interim leader of Nova Scotia’s official opposition says the party is “strongly considering” calling for a minister’s resignation after the government revealed that personal information had been inappropriately accessed when a government website was breached.
Social insurance numbers, birth dates and personal addresses of multiple people were accessed when the government’s freedom of information (FOI) web portal was accessed and 7,000 documents were inappropriately accessed between March 3 and 5.
Roughly 250 of the documents contain highly sensitive personal information.
Nova Scotia first made the breach public on Wednesday after the FOI portal had been taken offline for nearly a week as the government tried to fix the issue.
The internal services minister, Patricia Arab, has since modified her assertion that police asked the government to hold off on releasing information about a security breach, something police say didn’t happen.
Arab says that her department’s cybersecurity staff was in contact with police, and that police recommended the government delay notifying the public about the breach of the web portal.
Halifax police inspector Jim Perrin told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday that “there was no conversation between us and the province about holding off and not telling anybody.”
On Thursday, interim leader of the Nova Scotia PC party, Karla MacFarlane, said her caucus is very concerned that the government attempted to hide or cover-up the breach of the government’s FOI portal.
“It calls into question the integrity of this government and their ability to handle people’s personal and sensitive information. People’s lives could have been ruined and they will be the last to know,” MacFarlane said.
The PCs have now called for an emergency debate in the provincial legislature about the breach.
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Police have since arrested a 19-year-old man, who faces the seldom-laid charge of unauthorized use of a computer.
The 19-year-old has since been released from police custody on a promise to appear. He’s scheduled to appear in Halifax Provincial Court on June 12 at 10 a.m.
Arab says her department is in the process of contacting people who were affected by the breach and will offer to pay for third-party credit checks where costs are involved.
With files from the Canadian Press