Lost tax DVD an encrypted 'jumble of data', CRA assures Yukoners

The agency believes the DVD was lost, not stolen, during its journey from Ottawa to Yukon with the Purolator courier service. The disc contains the names, addresses and social insurance numbers of thousands of Yukoners.

Official says agency believes the DVD was lost, not stolen, during journey from Ottawa to Yukon

The Canada Revenue Agency assures Yukoners their 2014 tax returns on the lost DVD were encrypted. (Canada Revenue Agency)

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) says it's unlikely anyone would be able to make use of the lost DVD containing thousands of Yukoners' tax information.

The encrypted DVD was lost last week by Purolator, en route from Ottawa to Whitehorse.

The CRA says it contains information from about 28,000 Yukon taxpayers in the 2014 tax year, including people's names, addresses and social insurance numbers.

Max Guénette, chief privacy officer for the CRA, says he understands why people are concerned about the loss, but he assures Yukoners that the data on the disc is securely encrypted.

The revenue agency believes the disc was lost, not stolen. (CBC)

"You need to have, basically, a systems records definition key in order to make sense of this data. Otherwise, even if you were able to break through the encryption key — which we feel is very unlikely — you would have a jumble of data on your hands.

"So, it's not like this is a neatly-structured table with your name and your social insurance number written right beside it," he said. 

The CRA believes the disc was lost and not stolen, Guénette said. He said it's the first time that's happened with a disc containing so much taxpayer information from the agency.

Guénette said every security protocol was followed, when CRA attempted to send the DVD to the Yukon government. An official is planning to come to the territory in a couple of weeks, and will bring another copy, he said.

Meanwhile, Purolator is still searching for the lost DVD.

Guénette also says that Yukoners should take some precautions to protect themselves, even thought the CRA believes the risk to be low.

He urges people to check bank and credit card statements carefully, and monitor their mail. He says any problems or unusual activity should be reported to the bank, or Canada Post. 

Yukoners who want more information can call the CRA at 1-866-426-1527, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT, or go the agency's website.

With files from Elyn Jones