Missing data on half million Canadian student loans to draw suit

OTTAWA (Reuters) - A Newfoundland lawyer said he will launch a class action lawsuit on Thursday against the Canadian government which lost a portable external hard drive containing the personal information of 583,000 Canada Student Loan borrowers.

The privacy breach, possibly the largest in Canadian history, affected students involved with the student loan program from 2000-2006. The external hard drive went missing on November 5 from a Quebec office.

Human Resources Minister Diane Finley announced the breach on Friday and said the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were investigating.

Lawyer Bob Buckingham told Reuters on Wednesday he would be filing with the Federal Court on Thursday.

“We are receiving a lot of inquiries and are deep in review of the situation in the hopes of preparing the best case on your behalf,” Buckingham said on his law firm’s Facebook page in a message to people affected.

Data on the hard drive includes student names, Social Insurance Numbers, dates of birth, contact information and their loan balances, but no banking or medical information.

The Canada Student Loans Program said there was no evidence at this time that any of the information had been accessed or used for fraudulent purposes, but the incident was being taken very seriously.

Finley said last week that she had ordered new stricter protocols, including no longer permitting portable hard drives.

Buckingham did not put a price on the lawsuit.

Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Tim Dobbyn