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.

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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.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Canadian Passport Office caught in document mix-up 

The Halifax Chronicle Herald is reporting on a mix-up from the Canadian Passport Office that has at least one person upset.

The Passport office passing the buck in document mix-up, woman says

When Alana Hines opened an envelope from Passport Canada recently, it contained more than her newest passport — she also found the complete credit card information, phone number, address and original marriage certificate for a stranger in Ontario.

Ms. Hines was not surprised, because the woman had called her at work earlier to say she received Ms. Hines’s marriage certificate and driver’s licence with her own new passport.

"I had her Visa number and her expiry date. I’m an honest person so I didn’t do anything with it but if it had gotten into the wrong hands, that could have been very serious," said Ms. Hines, of Dutch Settlement, Halifax County.

She called Passport Canada immediately but said the agency wasn’t any help.

"They tried to make excuses, they just said that they’d have to look into it and have somebody call me back. But they told me that I should try and contact (the Ontario woman) and see if she’d send my information back to me, and I didn’t believe that was acceptable, as they’re the ones that messed up."

Ms. Hines, who got married in August, had applied for a new passport Oct. 4 to reflect her married name. The passport arrived correctly but without the accompanying personal documents she had sent along with her application. And the ones she did receive had little in common to possibly explain the mix-up, she said.


Darce Fardy of the Nova Scotia Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Review Office said the mix-up is unacceptable.

"That is really awful, particularly for a government body."

Mr. Fardy said privacy concerns are becoming a big issue and easy access to personal information can quickly lead to fraud and identity theft.

"Those two people, they obviously knew that there was something wrong with this and that it was a privacy concern."

A Passport Canada spokesman said he was unaware Ms. Hines had not heard from the agency.

"We’re certainly going to recognize that incidents like this do happen but they are very rare,"" Dan Kingsbury said. "Obviously we take this kind of stuff very seriously."


Ms. Hines said she just wants to know how the mix-up happened and is disappointed with Passport Canada’s handling of the situation. "It was like they didn’t care."

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