Ontario government kiosks to be shuttered permanently

Nov. 6, 2012

The troubled ServiceOntario kiosks are going away for good, according to The Toronto Sun.

The kiosks, which were shut down earlier this year for evaluation over privacy and fraud concerns, have now been permanently shut down because province officials now say they are unable to secure them against hackers, the paper said:

"After months of careful analysis, consultation and testing of multiple options, it has been determined that even if we spend millions on security improvements, the kiosks would still be vulnerable to high-tech crime," Government Services Minister Harinder Takhar said in a statement.

"We encourage our customers to go online — where it is faster, easier and more secure — to get the services they need."

The 72 terminals across the province were first shut down in June after the ministry was alerted to an organized attempt to get debit and credit card information through the machines.

The attempts weren't successful but the government closed down the kiosks to see if they could be made more secure.

Since then, the government has decided that it would cost more than it's worth to strenghten the kiosks' security, particularly since all of the services they provide can be done online, Takhar said. The kiosks offered 40 different government services, including address changes and license plate renewals. The move to shutter the kiosks will save the future costs of upgrading them, as well as $2.2 million in annual maintenance costs, Takhar said.

The move has sparked political backlash, according to CTV News in Toronto.

Conservative critics are using the liberal party government's decision to shut down the kiosks as ammunition, with Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats saying that it shows "the governing Liberals can't be trusted with delivering and overseeing even the most basic government services," according to the station.

"I think first and foremost the issue is that, how could we trust a government to run the province, if they can't properly run a kiosk?" New Democrat Jagmeet Singh said in the story. "That's a big question."

Read more about government kiosks.

Topics: Government , Security

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