The Canadian Privacy Law Blog: Developments in privacy law and writings of a Canadian privacy lawyer, containing information related to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (aka PIPEDA) and other Canadian and international laws.

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The author of this blog, David T.S. Fraser, is a Canadian privacy lawyer who practices with the firm of McInnes Cooper. He is the author of the Physicians' Privacy Manual. He has a national and international practice advising corporations and individuals on matters related to Canadian privacy laws.

For full contact information and a brief bio, please see David's profile.

Please note that I am only able to provide legal advice to clients. I am not able to provide free legal advice. Any unsolicited information sent to David Fraser cannot be considered to be solicitor-client privileged.

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The views expressed herein are solely the author's and should not be attributed to his employer or clients. Any postings on legal issues are provided as a public service, and do not constitute solicitation or provision of legal advice. The author makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained herein or linked to. Nothing herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel.

This web site is presented for informational purposes only. These materials do not constitute legal advice and do not create a solicitor-client relationship between you and David T.S. Fraser. If you are seeking specific advice related to Canadian privacy law or PIPEDA, contact the author, David T.S. Fraser.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

CBC's Marketplace investigates loyalty programs 

Marketplace, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's consumer affairs program has just continued their series of privacy features by investigating two of the country's loyalty programs:

CBC Marketplace: Mining your business

"Our quest: to find out what companies do with your information - the personal stuff you provide on the sign-up sheet when you apply for a card ... and the information gleaned from your purchases when your card is swiped at the store."

Their investigation (with a small sample) confirmed the conclusions of Katherine Albrecht, of CASPIAN (Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering), that loyalty programs do not result in real savings ...

"For some background on loyalty card programs, we headed to Harvard University, in Boston, Massachusetts. We met with a student and privacy activist named Katharine [sic] Albrecht. She's doing her doctoral thesis on loyalty cards.

In all her research, Albrecht says she's "been unable to find a single consumer benefit from using these cards."

But wait ... We thought these loyalty card programs were about saving consumers a dime. To test Albrecht's thesis, we did a little research of our own. We went shopping.

Among the interesting elements of the report is a view into the information that is collected by loyalty programs. The show's "consumer cadets" opened loyalty program accounts and subsequently requested access to their personal information. The responses from the companies are posted on the show's website.

Those interested may also wish to check out some of the materials released by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre in Ottawa, following their complaint to the Privacy Commissioner about the information collected by various organizations, including a high-profile loyalty program.

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