Due to the outsourcing of their Visa Credit Card operations, CIBC has put many Canadians in a potential position where their spending records could be obtained by a foreign country (United States) where the privacy and access to records laws are more lax than Canada's
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U.S. law could open millions of Canadian Visa records
A small sheet of paper slipped in with the bills of millions of Canadian Visa cardholders has sparked an investigation by Canada's Privacy Commissioner and calls for the federal government to stand up for the privacy rights of its citizens.
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce Visa customers were sent an amendment to their cardholder agreement this month warning their financial information could be disclosed in accordance with U.S. laws.
NDP MP Brian Masse criticized the Canadian government yesterday for not challenging controversial American legislation, such as the U.S. Patriot Act, which was passed in the wake of 9/11. Canada's complacency, he said, could now lead to privacy violations.
"Information can now be passed on without your knowledge, without even the CIBC knowing it and nothing has been done about this," Masse said in an interview yesterday.
In recent years both CIBC and RBC Financial have outsourced their credit card operations to a Georgia-based company called Total System Services Inc., which means that Canadian cardholder information now falls under U.S. legislation.
Spokespersons with Scotiabank and Bank of Montreal said all their operations are in Canada so American legislation does not affect their customers. At TD Financial Group, only people holding the U.S. Dollar Advantage Visa are affected.
"We, along with the CBA (Canadian Bankers Association) are assessing the implications of it all on existing privacy laws for our Canadian clients," RBC Financial Group spokesperson Beja Rodeck said yesterday.