Insolvency Records Search Renewal
New Insolvency Record Search system will include modern safeguards to protect the personal information of debtors.
Under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA), the Superintendent of Bankruptcy is required to keep and make available a public record of all bankruptcies and proposals. The public record, including the names of debtors who are granted statutory protection from the obligation to pay their debts, contains essential information necessary to support the administration of the insolvency system, and an efficient and well-functioning marketplace.
The existing Bankruptcy and Insolvency Records Search database provides Canadians with access to search the public record for specific individuals or businesses who have filed a consumer proposal or bankruptcy, or for creditors to see if they are involved in specific files. The Bankruptcy and Insolvency Records Search database enables:
- creditors to take necessary action with respect to individual insolvency filings;
- debtors to obtain information about their insolvency;
- Licensed Insolvency Trustees (LIT) to correctly administer insolvency estates;
- individuals and businesses to make informed business or credit decisions regarding individuals or businesses.
Each year the current database, (which has a fee of $8 per search for public users), is searched approximately 800, 000 times by Canadians and LITs. Any member of the public who pays the fee can search the database, and the current system does not limit access in any other way.
The OSB will be replacing the current outdated system with a new Bankruptcy and Insolvency Records Search (IRS) which, while still addressing the legislative requirements to provide access to a public record of insolvencies, will greatly increase the protection of personal information of debtors. As compared to the old system, the IRS will include numerous measures designed to specifically limit the disclosure and use of the personal information about debtors which is available in the public record. Here are examples of the new protections which are not available in the current system which will protect disclosure of personal information:
- Personal information disclosed about an insolvent person will be limited to that entered by the searcher. Personal information entered will only be confirmed, not provided in a search result. For example, searchers will need to know the first, last name, and date of birth of a debtor in order to obtain confirmation of an individual insolvency. This information will no longer be disclosed as it is in the current search system.
- The new system will no longer provide access to insolvent debtor records that do not match the search criteria (e.g. lists of names).
- For each correct search, a reduced amount of personal information will be returned in the public search results. For example, home addresses and full postal codes will no longer be included in search results as they are in the current system.
- The public record search retention period for information will be reduced to 10 years post-discharge.
- The new system will include technologies designed to reduce the potential for unintended uses of insolvency information (e.g. machine-based searches).
The OSB has been consulting with the Canadian Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Professionals (CAIRP) throughout the development of the new system, and has addressed comments received to date. The design will maximize protection of personal information while also meeting the specific needs of LITs, in fulfilling their insolvency estate administration and legislative requirements.
It should be noted that the OSB has no plan to propose to remove the $8 fee from the current system prior to its being retired from service. The original introduction of the fee was designed solely to support the OSB’s incremental operating costs to establish and maintain the system and was not designed or intended to protect privacy or to dissuade Canadians from accessing the public record of insolvency information.
The new IRS will include numerous specific measures to appropriately reduce disclosure and increase the protection of personal information of debtors which the current system does not have, and the OSB has no evidence to suggest that charging a service fee with the new IRS would better protect debtor information against inappropriate use. As a result, subsequent to the retirement of the existing system, the OSB will review and propose to remove the historical regulatory provision which allowed for the charging of a fee to access the public record, in a manner consistent with Treasury Board Policy.
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