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.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Privacy Commissioner considers USA Patriot Act / Outsourcing complaints against Canadian bank 

Not too long ago, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce gave the users of the bank's Visa card notice that processing of account information may take place in the United States, which would make the information accessible to US law enforcement and intelligence officials. This caused a relatively minor stink in the press but did result in a number of complaints to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

Today, the Assistant Commissioner has released her finding related to these complaints and has found that there is nothing in PIPEDA which prevents oursourcing such as this or that requires getting consent for the processing of personal information by third-party service providers. There was some question of whether CIBC appeared to offer an opt-out option. With respect to the cross-border outsourcing issue, there is again no requirement to get consent from the customer. The company has to use contractual means to make sure that the information has a comparable level of protection, but the existence of the USA Patriot Act doesn't mean that you can't have comparable protection in the US. (Canada has similar legislation that has garnered less attention.) Personal information is equally vulnerable to disclosure to law enforcement, whether it is located north or south of the Canada-US border.

The Assistant Commissioner did state that companies that do outsource the processing of personal information are under an affirmative duty to inform their customers. While the customer cannot "opt out" of the outsourcing, they can choose not to do business with the company.

Read the full finding here: Commissioner's Findings - PIPEDA Case Summary #313: Bank's notification to customers triggers PATRIOT Act concerns (October 19, 2005).

Michael Geist has a comment here: Michael Geist - Canadian Privacy Commissioner Denies PATRIOT Act Complaints.

CIPPIC also has a thing or two to say: Privacy Commissioner OKs outsourcing to US.

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