Bob Mackin (updated Nov. 15)
The British Columbia Legislative Assembly website and email system have been out of service since Nov. 10 due to a security incident, theBreaker.news has learned.
There is also no publicly announced target date for resumption of service. Officials are refusing to explain what happened and they are not commenting on whether the personal information of British Columbians has been compromised.
For the firs two days, the website showed only a photograph of the Parliament Buildings and this one liner: “We are currently performing unscheduled maintenance. We will be back soon.”
For almost three days, the Legislative Assembly had not mentioned anything about the outage on its Twitter or Facebook accounts.
That changed just before 1 p.m. Nov. 13.
The B.C. Legislature account Tweeted that information technology staff took the website and network services down “late in the evening” Nov. 10. No reason was given.
“Our information technology team is working to securely restore services as soon as possible,” said the statement. “At this time, it is anticipated that the outage will continue through the weekend.”
On Nov. 16, the Legislature Tweeted another statement, at the same time Health Minister Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Office Dr. Bonnie Henry were disclosing new record case numbers of coronavirus.
“We are in the process of confirming information regarding the circumstances that led to the outage,” said a statement issued at 3:26 p.m. Nov. 16. “Further details will be provided once that work is complete.”
theBreaker.news sought comment from the Premier’s office. Spokesman George Smith declined.
“Legislature staff is currently looking into this and the premier’s office will refrain from commenting as their work is ongoing,” Smith said.
Clerk Kate Ryan-Lloyd did not respond to a phone message on Nov. 13, after an email to her bounced back on a 24-hour delay.
Clerk Assistant Artour Sogomonian said, via the Legislature’s alternate, March 13-registered labc.ca email account, that he “could not provide any further information beyond that contained in the statement.”
theBreaker.news asked Sogomonian whether the RCMP or Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) were involved and whether the Legislature’s website and email system had been hacked. Sogomonian refused to answer and repeated his statement. Sogomonian also would not say whether the personal information of British Columbians was safe.
David Derby, the Legislative Assembly’s IT director, did not respond.
OIPC Commissioner Michael McEvoy did not respond. His spokeswoman, Michelle Mitchell, said legislation prohibits McEvoy from discussing any information obtained while performing official duties. “Therefore, we cannot confirm or deny whether we have received a file,” Mitchell said.
Paul Stanley, the government’s chief security officer, said he was informed of the “unscheduled maintenance,” but his office is not investigating. “It apparently does not affect the main public service network at this time,” Stanley said by email.
Neither Attorney General David Eby nor Solicitor General Mike Farnworth replied to messages from theBreaker.news. Farnworth was the NDP government house leader when the Legislature was dissolved on Sept. 21 for the snap election.
The Legislature’s website contains debate transcripts and videos, committee reports, MLA profiles, financial reports and links to MLA offices. The outage also affects MLA office email systems, which contain communication with citizens.
The B.C. election period formally ends Nov. 16, but no date has been announced for swearing-in of MLAs or a new cabinet.
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