America accuses B.C. of unfair trading practices

The United States Trade Representative is accusing British Columbia of unfair trade practices when it comes to data storage contracts.

U.S. Trade Representative says B.C. data storage requirements prevent U.S. companies from competing

B.C.'s Minister for Technology, Innovation and Citizens' Services Andrew Wilkinson says the personal data of British Columbians is currently stored at a server farm in Kamloops. (Elise Amendola/Associated Press)

The United States Trade Representative is accusing British Columbia of unfair trade practices when it comes to data storage contracts.

The province requires that the personal data of British Columbians, such as medical records, be stored in Canada because it does not want U.S. authorities using the Patriot Act to gain access to private information. As a result, it only grants private companies data storage contracts.

Now two major U.S. cloud hosting companies — Rackspace and Salesforce — are complaining that the requirement is preventing them from bidding on B.C. government data storage contracts.

And the U.S. Trade Representative agrees it's unfair.

However, B.C.'s Minister for Technology, Innovation and Citizens' Services says the complaint will not affect the province's policy.

"We have a server farm in Kamloops where the data are stored and we intend to keep it that way, as long as I'm around," said Andrew Wilkinson.

"We protect the interests of  British Columbians by making sure that their data are secure and kept in Canada so that they are not in any way subject to Patriot Act visits by the American government."

The U.S. Trade Representative has not launched a formal unfair trade complaint, and Wilksinson says the agency is just doing its job to promote American business.

With files from CBC's Lisa Cardasco

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