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.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Alberta Commissioner finds three businesses failed to protect personal information from identity thieves 

The Alberta Information and Privacy Commissioner has released three investigation reports, castigating three Alberta businesses for failing to protect personal information from identity thieves.
Investigations find Alberta businesses failed to protect personal information from identity thieves

Recent investigations by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) found that three Alberta businesses failed to protect personal information in their custody.

On November 24, 2004, Edmonton Police Service (EPS) notified the OIPC that documents containing personal information from a number of Alberta businesses were found during a police investigation. Some of the records were found in a motel room; others were subsequently turned over to police by two individuals charged with credit card fraud. The records included return of goods slips, debtor account files from a collection agency, and cell phone contracts. Personal information in the records included Social Insurance Numbers, bank account information, credit card numbers, and customer signatures.

In response to the information from EPS, Information and Privacy Commissioner Frank Work initiated investigations of Linens ‘N Things, Nor-Don Collection Network Inc., and Digital Communications Group Inc., under the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA).

PIPA applies to private sector organizations in Alberta, and requires them to protect personal information against such risks as unauthorized access, collection, use, disclosure, copying, modification, disposal or destruction.

The investigators found that these businesses failed to protect personal information in their custody.

Recommendations from the investigations required all three organizations to contact the individuals whose information was, or may have been, exposed to identity theft. In at least one case this meant contacting hundreds of customers. Additional recommendations required the organizations to:

  • ensure all records containing personal information are stored securely,
  • limit access to personal information to staff on a “need-to-know” basis,
  • develop procedures for storage, retention and destruction of personal information, and
  • provide privacy and security training/awareness for employees.

One organization was also required to obtain computer equipment to obscure credit card numbers printed on receipts and return slips. Along with the affected individuals, these three businesses were victimized in these incidents, but each is responsible under PIPA for securing personal information.

The OIPC is advising other businesses not to put themselves in the same situation.

To obtain a copy of an Investigation Report, click the following links:

Investigation #P2005-IR-001 (Linens ‘N Things)

Investigation #P2005-IR-002 (Nor-Don Collection Network Inc.)

Investigation #P2005-IR-003 (Digital Communications Group Inc.)

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