Information Technology: Keep our information in safe hands

Saskatchewan people lose out as government privatizes information technology services

Privatizing information technology services within the provincial government benefits private business owners, but is a losing proposition for the people of Saskatchewan.

The government has recently announced its intention to contract more information technology work out of the public service to private IT companies.

It costs more!

Government is paying business significantly more to do the same work that has traditionally been done in-house by government workers.  This is because:

  • contract employees are often paid more than government workers, and
  • business owners take a substantial profit off the top.

The bottom line is that privatizing information technology services costs taxpayers more.

We lose skilled workers

Saskatchewan people should also be concerned about a 'brain drain' from our province.  We are in danger of losing specialized knowledge and skills in the IT area, as more and more of this work gets contracted out.  We may well see this work leaving not only our province, but our country in future.

Our privacy rights at risk

We risk losing control of our personal information -- health files and legal records -  if companies are sold or work is transferred to the U.S. or an off-shore country.

When our electronic records are held in Saskatchewan, by the Saskatchewan government, there is built-in accountability.  Most citizens are powerless to ensure that private companies in other countries protect theirprivacy rights.

It's in our best interests as a province to keep IT capacity within our own government.  We don't want to see our money, or the technological capabilities in this area leave the province.

The government should be strengthening our internal capacity, not putting us at the mercy of business interests who have no real commitment to our province or its people.

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Privatization experiments with personal information in the USA raise major concerns

In her article Information and Information Technology - Whose Life is it Anyway?, Ellen Dannin from the the Pennsylvania State University Dickinson School of Law states:

Despite what we have learned recently about how critical information technology is, how easily it can be misused - and how expensive that misuse can be - both federal and state governments are pursuing a course of privatizing information that seems to know no bounds.

Private companies now have contracts to provide a wide range of services that involve generating and collecting highly personal information, including social and mental health services; education, medication and psychiatric services; unemployment benefits processing; accounting and information technology; legal services; permit application, payment of taxes or fines, and car registration. Add to these, contracts that relate more directly to IT services.

Once out of the government's sole control, opportunities for access multiply. Information can and does make its way around the world with the speed of light. Every time information is transferred there is an opportunity to divert it. And, given the nature of information in electronic form, diversion may be hard to detect.

This transfer of important functions from public to private control should be at the center of national debate. It affects our national security, our personal security, and our finances. Yet there has been deafening silence - except for those who cheerlead every movement from public to private control. The time has come for national debate on this issue.

Read her full article from the John Marshall Journal of Computer & Information Law here.

Find out more about IT privatization problems in the USA Find out more about IT privatization problems in the USA here.