Their financial data isn’t likely to be stolen, but canola growers in five provinces have been warned that the computer containing it was.
Several Prairie media outlets on Thursday reported that a laptop belonging to the Canadian Canola Growers Association was stolen in late March after it was taken off-site for maintenance.
According to the Winnipeg Free Press, data on the machine included almost 32,000 canola growers’ names, addresses, birthdates, social insurance numbers, bank account numbers, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, permit book numbers and identification numbers used by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada for administration of the canola growers’ Advance Payments Program.
The farmers in question have just recently been informed by AAFC by mail, but were assured by CCGA general manager Rick White, speaking to CBC, that the laptop theft is “low-risk” for data theft.
Although the data was not encrypted, the laptop was password-protected and also had a biometric fingerprint reader to prevent the data from being read by anyone other than the computer’s registered user, White told CBC.
Nevertheless, at least one grower who said she only received her letter Tuesday was quoted by the Free Press Thursday as frustrated over the time it took for AAFC to inform her of the March theft.
Of the people whose data was on the missing machine, about 18,000 are in Saskatchewan, 7,100 in Manitoba, 5,700 in Alberta and the remainder in B.C. and Ontario (plus one in the Northwest Territories), the Free Press reported.
Based in Carman, Man., about 80 km southwest of Winnipeg, the Canadian Canola Growers Association is an umbrella body representing six canola growers’ organizations in five provinces from B.C. to Ontario.