Canadian stats agency retrofits media room to prevent data leaks

Mon Oct 14, 2013 5:12pm EDT
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By Louise Egan

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's national statistics agency has spent nearly C$420,000 ($404,000) to retrofit its media room with impenetrable metal walls to prevent wireless communication from reporters who obtain market-moving data under embargo, a spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

The conversion of the media lockup room into a bunker-like vault, which was completed at the end of September, came after a probe into alleged leaks of data found no wrongdoing and as the federal agency faces budget cuts forcing it to eliminate or reduce 34 programs.

"The room was refitted to provide greater information security during lockups, ensuring that we stay abreast of technological advances in wireless communication," said Gabrielle Beaudoin, director general of communications at Statscan.

Statscan previously used wireless detection software to monitor whether reporters had internet access from within the room. The new structure blocks all radio signals from reaching the outside.

The windowless room, built inside the previous room, has metal-lined walls and a heavy door that seals shut with a large latch.

Financial news agencies use the room for economic indicators. Reporters are required to hand in their mobile devices and leave bags and coats outside. Communication lines are centrally shut off during the lockup and turned back on at the designated time, when the data is spewed out to clients.

The lockup is designed to ensure a level playing field so that the data is received by all interested parties at exactly the same time.

Beaudoin said the renovation cost C$417,936, which would be spread over two fiscal years in 2012-13 and 2013-14.   Continued...