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, May 18, 2005

Moving public records online has privacy risks, Nfld commissioner says 

Newfoundland is discovering that moving public records online does have privacy effects to be considered. Both the Chief of Police and the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Newfoundland are concerned about what will happen when the Companies office and the Registry of Deeds make their info available via the internet:

Online registry hurts privacy: commission

"ST. JOHN'S — The executive director of the Privacy Commissioner's office does not like the amount of personal detail available on a provincial government website.

The provincial Registry of Companies and Deeds – which has always been accessible to the public – began offering its services online in January.

The government intends to make microfilmed records and other materials accessible online.

Sandy Hounsell, the executive director of the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, says the ability to more easily search land transactions – which usually reveal the addresses of homeowners – puts the privacy of particular individuals at risk.

They include "women, for example, who have been abused and who have left abusive relationships, police officers, judges, jurors."

Joyce Hancock, president of the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women, agrees there is a downside.

"Every step we made toward making everything technologically available must be tempered with, 'What are the risks out there?'" Hancock says.

"I think this is one where the risks outweigh the gains."

Tim Buckle, who heads the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Association, says the electronic registry creates a hazard for officers who want their home addresses kept secret.

"Police officers, when they go home, like to leave the dark side of life at work and not have their families personally involved or under any kind of threat or risk or danger," Buckle says.

Hounsell says other jurisdictions, including Manitoba, limit how much information can be obtained through electronic searching.

Hounsell would like the Department of Government Services to consider such options as online registration and user fees.

Government is reviewing the suggestions."


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