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.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Incident: Tax preparer puts obscured social security numbers on mailing envelopes 

This one is relatively minor, but it's the first one of these of the year ...

H&R Block, the tax preparation company, has alerted some of its customers to keep an eye on their credit reports and bank accounts because some had their social security numbers embedded in a forty-seven digit tracking number on mailed copies of their software. The numbers were just munged in, so probably weren't recognizable as SSNs. If you want to read more, check out: H&R Block blunder exposes consumer data CNET

Calling this an "incident" that exposes personal information may be ammunition for those who argue companies should only have to notify customers when there is a real risk of identity theft associated with the disclosure.

Update: Techdirt asks what H&R Block is otherwise doing with SSNs if they are including them in tracking numbers? (Techdirt:H&R Block Mails Customers Their Own SSNs... On The Outside Of The Envelope) It certainly suggests they are using the numbers as customer identifiers, which raises a whole host of other issues.

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