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Farming out administrative work to US multinationals is raising alarm bells in British Columbia concerning privacy.

According to the US Patriot Act, the FBI has the power to access any information held by a US organization. BCs Information and Privacy Commissioner now wants to see if Canadian data handled by US multinationals through administrative contracts would be subject to the Act.

Concerns over confidentiality have forced the federal government to break its contract with a US multinational for work on the census. Meanwhile, the BC Government and Service Employees Union is challenging a part of BCs privatization plan in the Supreme Court. The Campbell government has given contracts to American companies for administrative work for BCs health insurance plan, pharmacare program and BC Hydro.

Health care employers in BC have also gotten into the act. The Vancouver Coastal Health Authority plans to turn over hospital medical transcripts to a US company, prompting HEU to call on the privacy commissioner to include this scheme in its review of public services being outsourced to US-linked service providers.