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 16, 2005

Activist against SSNs in online public records  

Today's Arizona Daily Star has a profile of B.J. Ostergren, who has a mission to get social security numbers and other sensitive personal information out of public records that are made available (much of it online) by all levels of government. Her tactics include finding the SSNs of the powerful and posting them on her site:

Counties putting your private data online | The Arizona Daily Star

B.J. Ostergren, a Virginia activist, has fished out from the public records the Social Security numbers of dignitaries ranging from CIA Director Porter Goss to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in an effort to persuade politicians of the dangers of posting the information online.

She's also ferreted out the Social Security number for Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, which is mentioned on a 1980 tax lien the IRS filed against him. Local clerks dutifully filed the lien against DeLay's property with his local tax records because a lien is something that must be cleared up before the property can be sold.

In the past this information has been available for anyone willing to trek down to the courthouse and leaf through public land records or the proceedings of divorce courts. But thanks to the Internet age, public records are now put online to make it easier for anyone with a computer anywhere around the world to retrieve them.

"It's putting our country at great danger," said Ostergren, who has posted some of the Social Security numbers she's retrieved on her Web site at


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